BOSTON - Prosecutors said they would not pursue charges against two men who planted electronic devices around the city as part of a botched advertising campaign after the pair apologized Friday for causing a bomb scare.
Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, also performed community service at a rehabilitation center in a deal with prosecutors.
In contrast to their first court appearance in January, when they mugged for the camera and waved to friends in the courtroom, the men offered contrite apologies and said they never expected the stunt to cause any turmoil.
"I deeply regret that this incident caused such anguish and disruption to so many people," Berdovsky told the Charlestown District Court.
Stevens said he saw the devices simply as "harmless entertainment."
"I had no intention of upsetting or alarming anyone," he said.
The two were accused of planting about three dozen battery- powered devices in Boston and Cambridge on Jan. 31. The devices, a promotion for Cartoon Network, had lights that created images of a cartoon character making an obscene gesture.
Fears of terrorism arose when the devices were discovered in a subway station and on a bridge, among other locations. Bomb squads were deployed, and highways, bridges and some transit stations were temporarily closed.
Similar signs were placed in nine other cities around the United States, but only in Boston did they elicit such a response.
Berdovsky and Stevens were charged with placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct.
Attorney General Martha Coakley said it would have been difficult to prove to a jury that the men intended to create panic, and that she did not believe they realized the problems the ads would cause.
"We believe this was an appropriate and fair resolution," Coakley said. Berdovsky said he was relieved the case was resolved without a trial. "I am looking forward to what the future has to bring. I'm just going to be working really hard and working on my art and working to build a really peaceful community for all of us to live in," Berdovsky told The Associated Press by telephone after the hearing. Berdovsky performed 80 hours of service and Stevens completed 60 hours at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston. The men designed a cartoon mural that will be painted in a waiting area for children undergoing physical therapy, said Oz Mondejar, Spaulding's vice president of human resources. They also helped patients use computers, cleaned the hospital's sailing docks and helped produce a DVD featuring patients talking about their rehabilitation successes. Turner Broadcasting and the advertising agency that carried out the campaign, Interference Inc., agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to cover costs and restitution for the law enforcement response. The head of the Cartoon Network resigned nine days after the stunt. AP-CS-05-11-07 1627EDT