Boston drops charges against Mooninite terror cell leaders

Prosecutors in Boston have dropped charges against Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28 -- the guys behind that ill-fated street marketing campaign with LED signs a few months ago.

The glowing image of a cartoon figure with raised finger inspired a series of bizarre mistakes and ill-conceived actions by authorities over terrorism fears.

The accused apologized (why didn't the mayor, for wasting so much taxpayer money on this?), and between the two of them, they have already completed 140 hours of community service (they painted a mural for a local hospital). In case you don't remember...

The resolution marked the final chapter in a bizarre misunderstanding that began Jan. 31 after the two men had installed about 40 battery-powered light screens on highway ramps, bridges, storefronts, and other structures in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville as part of an advertising campaign for a Cartoon Network television show and movie. When the devices were discovered that day, bomb squads rushed to remove and disable them, shutting down major roadways and subway lines and snarling the commute for thousands.
Berdovsky and Stevens' response to the surreal misunderstanding that followed included the legendary, Yippie-esque, "hair press conference."

Two things strike me as interesting in the press coverage around the dropped charges. One, they...

were to be paid $300 apiece by a New York marketing firm for installing the signs
That's all? I wonder how much that firm received from Turner Broadcasting, the network behind the show being promoted (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which is still lame, despite all of the real-world drama around it). Turner paid out a couple million in STFU money after all the chaos ensued.

Second, if the courts have ruled that the devices were not hoaxes, does that make 'em real?

And finally,

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other public officials have stood by their decision to shut down Interstate 93 north at the height of the scare and to deploy bomb and antiterrorism squads.

"I hope the message goes out to all guerrilla marketers who plan on doing business in Boston that we take the public safety of those who live and work here very seriously," Menino said yesterday in a statement.

Just as seriously as you take the outsourcing of internet security to an army of nannybots, huh? You stay classy, Thomas M. Menino.

Link to Boston Globe article.

Previously on BoingBoing:

  • LED ad campaign ignites terrorism scare in Boston
  • Boston Mooninite installer arrested
  • Boston Channel photoshops Mooninite LED signs
  • Video of Mooninite menaces
  • Mark on ABC news about Mooninite devices
  • Boston LED terror scare: a message to the media
  • Mooninite response explained in an old Peanuts comic
  • Mooninite on the Haunted Mansion
  • ATHF invades Boston -- the game
  • Public game involves hidden blinking LED signs

    Reader comment: Egg says,

    "I hope the message goes out to all guerrilla marketers who plan on doing business in Boston that we take the public safety of those who live and work here very seriously," Menino said yesterday in a statement.

    ...and the message goes out to all malicious persons, whether they be terrorists or pranksters, that they can shut down large parts of Boston at the drop of a hat, with nothing but a few LEDs.