May 11, 2007 7:23 pm US/Eastern
Pair Charged In Marketing Stunt Reach Plea Deal
BOSTON (AP) ―
Two men who planted obscene electronic devices that prompted a widespread bomb scare in a botched promotion for the Cartoon Network apologized Friday and performed community service to resolve criminal charges against them.
Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, said they never expected the stunt to cause any turmoil.
"I deeply regret that this incident caused such anguish and disruption to so many people," Berdovsky told the Charlestown District Court.
Stevens said he saw the devices simply as "harmless entertainment."
"I had no intention of upsetting or alarming anyone," he said.
The two were accused of planting about three dozen battery-powered devices in Boston and Cambridge that caused the confusion on Jan. 31. The devices, a promotion for Cartoon Network, had lights that created images of a cartoon character making an obscene gesture.
In exchange for the community service and public apology, prosecutors agreed not to pursue the criminal case against them. Berdovsky performed 80 hours and Stevens completed 60 hours at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston.
Attorney General Martha Coakley said it would have been difficult to prove to a jury that the men intended to create panic when they placed the devices around the city. She said she believed they did not realized at the time the problems the ads would cause.
"We believe this was an appropriate and fair resolution," Coakley said.
Berdovsky said he was relieved the case was resolved without a trial.
"I am looking forward to what the future has to bring. I'm just going to be working really hard and working on my art and working to build a really peaceful community for all of us to live in," Berdovsky told The Associated Press in a telephone interview after the hearing.
At Spaulding, the men designed a cartoon mural that will be painted on the wall of a waiting area for children undergoing physical therapy, said Oz Mondejar, Spaulding's vice president of human resources. They also helped patients use computers, cleaned the hospital's sailing docks on the Charles River and helped produce a DVD featuring patients talking about their rehabilitation success.
The men's contrite apologies offered in court Friday were in stark contrast to their behavior at their first court appearance in January, when they mugged for the camera and waved to friends in the courtroom.
The battery-powered, light-up devices were part of guerrilla advertising campaign by Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting Systems, a division of Time Warner Inc., to promote Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."
The discovery of the devices -- in a subway station and a bridge support among other locations -- sparked terrorist fears, prompted the deployment of bomb squads and forced the temporary shut down of highways, bridges and some transit stations.
Similar signs were placed in nine other cities around the United States, but only in Boston did they elicit such a response.
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