Haiti visitor in JFK exit door security breach is arraigned, released without bail

By Karen Matthews, AP
Sunday, January 17, 2010

Man in JFK alarm scare is released without bail

NEW YORK — A man who walked through a restricted door and set off an alarm at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport while returning from Haiti has appeared in court and has been released without bail.

An official familiar with the case against Jules Paul Bouloute says the 57-year-old told police he went to the wrong door by mistake while trying to exit the Queens airport. The official wasn’t authorized to comment publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The Saturday security breach delayed dozens of flights. Travelers had to exit the terminal and wait for hours to be re-screened.

The man was arraigned Sunday on charges including criminal tampering. He didn’t enter a plea.

Defense attorney Scott Dusault couldn’t immediately be reached by phone for comment.

Associated Press writer Amy Westfeldt contributed to this report.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

NEW YORK (AP) — The man returning from Haiti who walked through a restricted door and set off an alarm that led to the evacuation of a busy terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport told police he went through the door by mistake, an official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The official was not authorized to comment publicly on the case against the Brooklyn man and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The security breach on Saturday afternoon delayed dozens of flights and caused headaches for hundreds of travelers who had to exit the terminal and wait for hours while police swept through the building. Passengers were then re-screened by Transportation Security Administration officers. The incident comes less than two weeks after another security breach at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Jules Paul Bouloute, 57, was scheduled to make his first court appearance Sunday on charges including first-degree criminal tampering and third-degree criminal trespass, said Helen Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney. Bouloute faces up to seven years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.

Prosecutors allege that he went through a door that was clearly marked as restricted.

“As a result of the defendant’s actions, thousands of people were required to evacuate and to be re-screened by TSA, causing substantial delays in the airlines’ schedules,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Browne in a statement.

The Queens district attorney’s office didn’t immediately know who would be representing Bouloute in the case. The man’s home phone number was unlisted and there was no answer at his door, in a Brooklyn neighborhood of two- and three-story brick row houses where many Haitians live.

A neighbor, Saul Sanon, said he thought Bouloute went back and forth to Haiti a few times a year but said he doesn’t know him that well.

“He’s not a bad person,” Sanon said. “I don’t know exactly what happened. I think he just made a mistake, probably he was affected by the situation in Haiti.”

Stephen Sigmund, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the area airports, said the agency was reviewing security procedures and reaching out to airlines to make sure security protocols were being followed. He said the terminal where the incident took place was used by American Airlines.

American Airlines spokesman Charlie Wilson declined to comment on security issues because of the ongoing investigation.

The incident is the third evacuation in five months at airports that serve New York City.

A Rutgers University graduate student from China, Haisong Jiang, 28, was charged last week with trespassing in the Jan. 3 breach at the Newark airport. Flights were grounded for hours and passengers were re-screened while air safety officials searched for a man who had walked through the exit of a security checkpoint.

Jiang’s arraignment is set for Jan. 28 in Newark.

In August, a terminal at LaGuardia was evacuated after police tackled a disturbed man who was carrying a device that looked like a bomb but turned out to be harmless.

Associated Press Writer Amy Westfeldt contributed to this report.

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