A film crew linked to CNBC was arrested Thursday for trying to smuggle a fake bomb through a security checkpoint Newark International Airport, authorities said.
The seven-member team was grabbed by Port Authority cops at the New Jersey airport’s Terminal C at about 3 p.m. after the realistic-looking bomb was found in their carryon luggage. The suspects, who are part of a reality TV show called “Staten Island Hustle,” admitted that they wanted to record the Transportation Security Administration’s reactions when they found the “bomb,” sources with knowledge of the case said.
They also wanted to film the mass panic that they had hoped would ensue, sources said.
But the prank had the opposite effect. They were quickly arrested and their van was impounded and searched.
“The TSA bomb tech just happened to be (at the checkpoint),” one source said. “He quickly looked it over, said it was nothing and they were taken in.”
The filmmakers said they hired an engineer to craft the bogus bomb, which was made out of vacuum cleaner parts, PVC pipe and a flexible hose, sources said.
The prop “had all the markings of an improvised explosive device,” a TSA spokeswoman said.
“At the same time, others in the group covertly filmed the encounter,” she explained.
Because the bomb appeared to be a homemade explosive, the FBI was called in to consult on the arrest.
“Staten Island Hustle” was recently picked up by CNBC as the network plans to expand its primetime content, according to Variety.
“We are looking into the details of what happened as a matter of priority and are in contact with relevant authorities on the ground,” said a spokeswoman for the production company, Endemol Shine North America.
“While this process is ongoing we are unable to comment further but in the meantime, we sincerely apologize for any disruption caused,” the rep said.
The company also produces Big Brother, MasterChef and Fear Factor.
Port Authority police charged the seven crew members with conspiracy to create a public alarm and other charges, authorities said. They are also facing up to $ 13,000 in fines.