Melony Pasold Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on October 27, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, MELONY PASOLD, a 46-year-old resident of Sheridan, pled guilty to making false statements and hoaxes. Sentencing is set for February 5, 2010. She is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian R. Whittaker, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On July 5, 2007, at approximately 10:00 a.m., PASOLD used her cell phone to place a call to the Bert Mooney International Airport in Butte to communicate false and misleading information. Airport authorities would testify that they received a telephone call from a person identifying herself as "Jamie Meyers." During the telephone conversation, "Jamie Meyers" stated that she had been at the airport on the morning of July 5, 2007, and had overheard "Middle-Eastern males" discussing a bomb that would be placed on a Skywest airplane that was scheduled to depart at 3:00 p.m. that day.
Witnesses from the airport would have testified that "Jamie Meyers" stated that she had overheard the "Middle-Eastern males" comparing the situation to what happened on September 11, 2001. They would also testify that, during the telephone conversation, "Jamie Meyers" stated that she was scheduled to be on the 3:00 p.m. Skywest flight for a trip to Fort Lauderdale.
Based upon the caller's insistence that she had personally overheard the threat, the Bert Mooney International Airport officials contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Transportation Security Administration, the Butte-Silverbow Sheriff's Office, and Skywest Airlines. These officials took steps to search and secure the airport and the affected aircraft.
When interviewed later by the FBI, PASOLD stated that she had not been at the airport on the morning of July 5, 2007. As such, she could not have overheard any alleged conversation between the Middle-Eastern males.
PASOLD then voluntarily presented her cell phone for inspection to the FBI. Using the recent call feature, agents determined that only two outgoing calls were maintained in memory, both made within minutes of the FBI's arrival for the interview. There was no outgoing call to the airport stored in the memory of PASOLD'S cell phone. However, PASOLD later admitted to "occasionally" erasing information from her telephone's memory.
PASOLD then stated that she had received a call from someone who claimed to work at Delta Airlines warning her of a threat from Arab males at the airport made to the 3:00 p.m. flight. According to representatives of Delta Airlines, no one made any such call to PASOLD. Nevertheless, evidence would have shown that PASOLD relayed the terrorist threat information to other individuals. She provided specific information that the 3:00 p.m. outbound flight might be canceled due to a terrorist threat at the airport. PASOLD could have only known of the specific threat by being a party to the 10:00 a.m. telephone call.
PASOLD faces possible penalties of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Transportation Security Administration and the Butte-Silverbow Law Enforcement.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.