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LAX bomb threats: Unhappy relationships result in two arrests

December 21, 2011 |  1:44 pm

LAX lights
Two women have been charged in the last month with making false terrorism reports about flights out of LAX to prevent a lover or spouse from traveling by plane, federal officials said Wednesday.

Johnna Woolfolk was charged Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles with providing false and misleading information after allegedly calling in a phony bomb threat to prevent an AirTran Airways flight bound for Atlanta from taking off.

It comes on the heels of charges filed Nov. 23 against Lizet Sariol, 45, of Temple City, who allegedly phoned in a threat that some French visitors, including one with whom she had reportedly been romantically involved, posed a threat to a United Airlines flight.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said such incidents are an inconvenience to the flying public and needlessly tie up law enforcement resources.

"The airlines are not tools for revenge," said Eimiller. "Making a threat to an airline is a serious offense and will be prosecuted. The response to these hoaxes is a great expense to the government."

According to court documents, Woolfolk called AirTran representative and said a man with a bomb was aboard an Atlanta-bound flight.

After FBI agents tracked her down, Woolfolk admitted the call was a hoax and that she had recently had marital difficulties with her husband, who was scheduled to take the flight. She later told agents she did not intend to hurt anybody.

The other case involved an anonymous phone call in September, in which Sariol allegedly told United Airlines representatives about a threatening text message she received from a traveler, leading her to believe a bomb might be aboard a flight.

FBI investigators located the traveler, who told them he had been vacationing in the United States with a group since July. Another traveler in the group told investigators he had had a romantic relationship with Sariol, and he believed she incriminated them because she was unhappy he ended their relationship.

Woolfolk is expected to plead guilty when she appears next week in federal court. Sariol is scheduled for trial in early February.

If convicted of making a false threat, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

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— Andrew Blankstein (Twitter.com/Anblanx)

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times.

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