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article imageCriminal Justice student pleads guilty to impersonating FBI agent

By Kim I. Hartman     Jun 6, 2010 in Travel
Great Falls - A 19-year-old Washington, D.C., man who was arrested at a Montana airport has pleaded guilty to impersonating an FBI agent and saying he had a gun in his carry-on bag to see how personnel would respond. He says he wanted to observe how security responded.
The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, Malik Hannabal Shabazz., a 19-year-old resident of Washington, D.C., pled guilty to false impersonation of an officer of the United States.
Shabazz a student at University of Great Falls, where he was studying criminal justice, was on his way home for spring break in March. He approached a ticketing agent at the Great Falls International Airport in an attempt to board a United Airlines (UA) flight. He presented a boarding pass, which the UA employee scanned. She then informed him that one of his carry-on bags was too large and needed to be checked. Shabazz said he could not check the bag because he had a firearm in the carry-on bag and that he worked for the FBI said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan R. Whittaker.
Shabazz was wearing a knit, short-sleeved, collared shirt with an FBI seal on the left breast. Underneath the seal, were the words “Washington Field Office, FBI Junior Academy”. When asked by a UA employee for his law enforcement credentials, he produced a “DC One Card” bearing a photograph of him in a military style uniform. Shabazz told the UA employee that if she scanned the card, it would confirm that he could carry a firearm onto the plane.
Later, when questioned by the FBI, Shabazz admitted that he told the UA ticketing agent that he had a gun in his carry-on bag. He further admitted that when questioned about being a law enforcement officer, he responded by claiming to work for the FBI. He also stated that he displayed a “DC One Card” when asked for credentials by the UA employee and told her that if scanned, the card would allow him to carry a firearm on the plane.
He stated he was prohibited from telling them exactly what he did for the Bureau. The investigation showed that he did not have a gun on him or in the bag he was to check.
During the interview with the FBI, Shabazz admitted that he did not work, nor did he ever work, for the FBI and that he made the decision to say there was a gun in his carry-on bag prior to arriving at the gate. He stated that his purpose for claiming he was in possession of a firearm, in the pretend character of an FBI employee, was to be able to observe the response of airport personnel.
Shabazz faces possible penalties of up to three years in prison for his simply stupid stunt and a $250,000 fine and at least one year of supervised release. Sentencing has been set for August 26, 2010. He is currently detained.
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