Frank Hannibal was arrested at LaGuardia Airport for joking his peanut may be explosive.
Take a jar of fancy peanut butter, add a dumb joke about explosives at airport security, and you’ve got the makings of a nutty federal lawsuit.
A former New Yorker is suing a TSA worker at LaGuardia Airport and a Port Authority cop for $5 million after they busted him for trying to bring a jar of Crazy Richard’s peanut butter on the plane.
Frank Hannibal claims in a complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court that he wound up in the sticky situation when the screener noticed the layer of oil atop his gourmet peanut butter — and ordered him out of the line.
“They’re looking to confiscate my explosives,” Hannibal sarcastically told his wife and twin 6-year-old daughters, the court papers state.
The TSA worker, identified in the papers as Edwin Sanchez, overheard Hannibal, apparently didn’t get the joke — and called the cops.
Minutes later, Officer Spencer Newman slapped the cuffs on Hannibal and charged him with falsely reporting an incident, a felony.
James S. Wood
The layer of oil in Crazy Richard’s all-natural peanut butter got into Hannibal into sticky situation.
Hannibal said he spent the next 25 hours in a lockup.
Adding insult to injury, Hannibal — an admitted peanut butter snob who said the 16-ounce jar that retails for about $6.99 — said the prison chow consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“The jelly looked like pus, the peanut butter like God knows what and the bread was hard as a rock,” Hannibal, 50, told the Daily News.
Hannibal, who lived in Harlem at the time and now lives in Arizona, said he was eventually allowed to leave and the Queens district attorney declined to prosecute him.
But he still hasn’t gotten over the incident.
“It sounds laughable now but at the time to be led out of there like a terrorist was unbelievable,” Hannibal said. “My whole life was up in the air. It was a nightmare. My children were overwhelmed. It was crazy.”
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
LaGuardia screeners don’t have much of a sense of humor. A former New Yorker is suing them for $5 million after he joked his oily peanut butter may be explosive.
Conditions in the lockup were, in Hannibal’s words, deplorable. He said he was threatened at one point by another prisoner over the use of a pay phone.
Hannibal said the peanut butter that landed him in a jam was confiscated by the cops, but he was able to retrieve it after his release from jail.
“I ate it,” he admitted.
The TSA prohibits passengers from carrying on liquids in containers larger than three ounces to prevent the possibility of a liquid explosive being brought aboard a jetliner.
“The liquid oil that separated from the peanut butter had them baffled,” Hannibal said.
His lawyer, Alan D. Levine of Queens, said all this could have been avoided if airport authorities exercised some common sense.
“It’s a sorry state of affairs in this country when sarcasm is considered a felony,” Levine said.
A Port Authority spokesman said they have no comment because the agency had not yet been served with the court papers.