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No Charges Filed Over Schiavo’s Bag

June 10, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ No federal charges will be filed against former inspector general Mary Schiavo, whose unaccompanied bag at the Columbus airport disrupted operations.

The bag, which was being used by Ms. Schiavo and a television station for a story on airport security, was found in a passenger area of Port Columbus International Airport on March 12.

Security officials took it to a runway, which they closed for about four hours while investigating.

U.S. Attorney Sharon Zealey said Wednesday that prosecutors could not prove that Ms. Schiavo acted with criminal intent to damage the airport.

A message seeking comment from Ms. Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department, was not returned.

Ms. Schiavo resigned from her federal post in 1996 after criticizing the Federal Aviation Administration on several occasions. She has since published a book accusing the FAA of sloppy inspections, lax airport security and disregard for bogus airplane parts.

In the Columbus case, she has said she attempted to put an unaccompanied suitcase packed with harmless items on a plane the day the runway shut down.

Ms. Schiavo has said she was hoping to determine whether the bag would be allowed to leave with the flight even though its owner was not on board. Bags are matched to passengers on international flights, but checks are not required for domestic passengers.

She said the bag was clearly marked with her name and address, and claimed that airport officials called the bomb squad to make a scene that would discredit her.

WCMH-TV reported that it had told airport officials it was doing a story on airport security. Station president and general manager Michael Jack said Wednesday that its news department was vindicated by the federal prosecutor’s decision.

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