Nine members of a reality TV production crew were arrested Thursday at Newark International Airport after allegedly trying to sneak an “inert device” through security.
“Inert device” is a technical term for a fake bomb. The Port Authority Police Department, which oversees security at New York area airports, said “the item was in a carry-on bag and resembled a possible explosive device.”
The device was made up of vacuum cleaner parts and wires, according to a law enforcement source who spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity. The crew members told law enforcement that they hired an engineer to construct it.
The crew apparently wanted to see how passengers and Transportation Security Administration workers would react to the device.
Now the crew members are being charged with conspiracy to create a public alarm and other offenses.
The nine individuals, all men, were charged and released, the Port Authority said.
The crew was working for a production company affiliated with Endemol Shine Group. They were working on a show for the business news network CNBC, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The Port Authority pointed out that “although the suspects claimed affiliation with a television show, none were able to provide media credentials.”
According to the law enforcement source, the crew members told police that they were with the show “Staten Island Hustle.”
CNBC has a lineup of reality shows that run when the stock markets are closed. “Staten Island Hustle” was announced earlier this month and was set to premiere sometime this spring.
CNBC’s promotional material describes the show this way: It “follows a group of animated, life-long friends and businessmen from Staten Island who’ve yet to come up with an idea or product too far-fetched for them to invest in. Without MBAs (or even college degrees) these men prove that grit, ingenuity, and street smarts may be the real key to success.”
On Thursday night CNBC referred questions about the arrests to Endemol. In turn, the production company said in a statement that it is “in contact with relevant authorities on the ground.”
“While this process is ongoing we are unable to comment further but in the meantime, we sincerely apologize for any disruption caused,” Endemol said.
Endemol said it had no further updates to share on Friday.