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Judge seeks psych exam for bomb scare suspect

A 32-year-old Manhattan man who caused thousands of travellers to be delayed after he brought a fake bomb to LaGuardia Airport earlier this month has been indicted and scheduled to return to court later this month, but it has still not been determined whether he is mentally fit to stand trial, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney said.

Scott McGann, who lives at 317 Ganesvoort St. in Manhattan, was indicted last Thursday on charges of placing a fake explosive device in a mass transportation facility and making a terrorist threat, a spokeswoman for Queens DA Richard Brown said. The defendant, currently being held in Bellevue Hospital’s prison ward, was scheduled to return to court Aug. 18.

If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison, the spokeswoman said.

But it has not yet been decided whether McGann is psychologically fit to take part in a trial. If he is found to be unfit to appear in court, he could remain in the hospital, the spokeswoman said.

Queens Criminal Court Judge Lenora Gerald had ordered McGann to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine whether he was capable of understanding the proceedings against him.

On Aug. 1, McGann arrived at a checkpoint at LaGuardia’s Terminal B around 4:50 a.m. to board a United Airlines flight to Chicago with a connecting flight to Oakland. He was wearing a backpack and sweating profusely when a security officer asked him for identification information, the DA said.

McGann allegedly refused to answer questions and the security officer noticed a suspicious package attached to the bottom of his backpack, he said. At that point, he allegedly reached for what appeared to be a trigger device with a red button attached to a wire which led to the package on his backpack, Brown said.

The defendant is accused of repeatedly pressing the red button until a Port Authority officer grabbed his hand and then removed the device, the DA said. Police later determined the device was a simulated, improvised explosive device consisting of batteries, cylinders and electronic components that could have been used in the construction of an actual explosive device, he said.

But the device itself did not contain explosives, the DA said.

The incident caused the airport to evacuate its central terminal and cancel all flights for several hours, leaving thousands of passengers stranded. As a result, flight delays were reported across the country.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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