Lafayette Man Sentenced for Stating Bomb was in his Bag Aboard Northwest Airlines Flight

DENVER (LAWFUEL) – Mark Randall Rayborn, age 56, of Lafayette, Colorado, was sentenced last Friday by U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane to serve 4 years probation for making false threats aboard an aircraft, Acting United States Attorney David Gaouette and FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis announced. Rayborn had stated that he had C4 explosives in his bag on a Northwest Airlines flight. Judge Kane also ordered Rayborn to abstain from alcohol during his term of probation.

Mark Randall Rayborn was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on October 7, 2008. On October 16, 2008, when Rayborn was arrested by FBI agents, he was intoxicated, requiring medical care at a local hospital. He pled guilty before Judge Kane on January 23, 2009. He was sentenced on Friday, April 17, 2009.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on September 27, 2008, Mark Rayborn was a passenger on Northwest Airlines Flight 552. Seated next to Rayborn was an off-duty Northwest Airlines pilot. As the aircraft was pushed from the gate, the off-duty pilot reported that Rayborn reached down and gripped his carry-on bag with both hands. Rayborn then stated, “They didn’t even check my bag and I’ve got about five pounds of C4 in here.” C4 is a military grade high explosive.

The off-duty pilot recognized that the probability was low that Rayborn had C4 in his bag, however, he felt that the risk was too great not to report the remark, so he reported the statement to the flight crew. The aircraft was then placed in a safe area of the airport. Passengers were deplaned and re-screened. The aircraft was searched by law enforcement officers and trained canines. The search of the aircraft, including the carry-on baggage of the defendant, disclosed no explosives.

Flight 552 had approximately 140 passengers on the flight. Because of the defendant’s statements, it was delayed in departing by approximately 4 hours.

“Threats like these must always be taken seriously,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “Luckily, no one was injured, however, a great deal of time and resources had to be expended to ensure the public’s safety.”

“Threats of any kind are taken seriously. The FBI continues to work closely with all our partners at the Denver International Airport to ensure the safety of those living, working and traveling in Colorado,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Denver Police Department (DPD). The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was instrumental in re-screening the Northwest Airline passengers.

Rayborn was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division Chief James Allison.

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