Israeli Pleads Guilty to Calling in Bomb Threat to U.S. Airport

Yechezkel Wells, 21, said in court he was trying to delay the flight so that he could board.

An Israeli-American man pleaded guilty to calling in a bomb threat to the Long Beach Airport after he arrived too late to board his flight, authorities said.

Yechezkel Wells, 21, of Miami Beach, California, entered his plea in U.S. District Court to a felony count of conveying false information of a threat targeting an airplane. Wells, who remains free on bond, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 29. He faces probation to five years in prison.

Wells, a college student with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Israel, was arrested Aug. 26 shortly after he made an emergency call from a pay phone and said there was a bomb on a JetBlue flight from Long Beach, California, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In his plea agreement, Wells acknowledged he made the call to try to keep the plane from leaving.

Court documents said Wells did not have a bomb and was upset that an airline employee would not allow him to board because of federal rules that require airlines to close a flight 30 minutes before takeoff.

He told investigators he had hoped the threat would delay the flight and possibly allow him to board, authorities said.

Wells' lawyer, Donald Etra, said outside court that his client "apologizes to the passengers of JetBlue" who were delayed for about one hour while bomb-sniffing dogs searched the plane.

"This was a momentary gross lapse in judgment," Etra said.