Updated Oct 22, 2013 - 8:44 am
Ex-ASU professor acquitted in Liberty Bell threat case
PHILADELPHIA -- A former Arizona State University professor has been acquitted of charges that he threatened screeners at Philadelphia's iconic Liberty Bell by telling them that he had explosives.
Forty-two-year-old Carlos Balsas had been in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail since he was arrested Jan. 26 on a felony bomb threat charge near Independence Mall.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Common Pleas Court Judge Diana Anhalt acquitted Balsas on Monday.
Balsas, a Portuguese citizen, called it a misunderstanding, saying he told the screener, "I have a bunch of exclusives" -- a literal translation of the Portuguese word for personal property.
Officials said Balsas, an Arizona State professor from 2004 to 2011, was touring the city's historic sites on his way to a job interview at Rutgers University. Witnesses testified that he became upset when authorities started to search his courier sack and backpack and said, "I have a bunch of explosives in there."
He then grabbed his bags and walked out, saying, "This is the way they treat you in America," according to witnesses. National Park Service rangers followed him and arrested him nearby. Authorities searched the backpack and found no explosives.
Balsas, a Portuguese citizen who has been in the United States for 17 years, called it a misunderstanding, saying he told the screener,"`I have a bunch of exclusives"- a literal translation of the Portuguese word for personal property.
Prosecutors said Balsas had never offered that explanation before.
Anhalt said she would have convicted Balsas of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but he wasn't charged with those offenses.