SECURITY

Angry stepfather 'had a few drinks' before making up Olympics terror claim

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 4:48am
 

A US man who tipped off the FBI that his stepson planned an attack at the Sochi Olympics faces criminal charges after admitting he made up the claim in an attempt to recover a safe.

Federal investigators said the man sparked a search in the United States and Russia after he called an FBI hotline to falsely claim that he overheard his stepson having a Skype conversation in Russian in which he made threatening remarks.

"He's going to kill somebody or a lot of people," the man, 69-year-old Lawrence Reinhard of suburban Philadelphia said in a call on January 15, according to court papers filed by FBI agent Michael Bantner.

"Somebody needs to catch him before he does something horrible in Russia ... to the American embassy or the Olympics that are taking place in two weeks," Reinhard said, according to court papers. "That's what concerns me the most, because he's that crazy."

Reinhard told the FBI he had seen bomb-making instructions on screen and believed his stepson, a Russian national with a US green card, was already in Russia.

The report prompted FBI officials to interview the stepson's friends in the US, while Russian security services attempted to locate him.

FBI officials then learned that Reinhard had accused his stepson of stealing a safe containing guns, jewellery and cash, and asked why he had not reported the threat to the local police investigating that crime.

At that point, Reinhard began to change his story, investigators contend.

He told them he overheard the words "bomb" and "Sochi", and later admitted to exaggerating some details.

He said he "may have had a few drinks" before making the call, prosecutors said.

FBI agents located the stepson at a New York-area airport, where he had been headed to Russia to visit a sick relative.

He was co-operative and allowed agents to inspect his luggage. He was not detained after questioning.

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