New charge in LA airport weapons arrest

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Associated Press

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 6:35 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A teacher pleaded not guilty Thursday to making false statements when he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport wearing a bulletproof vest and with checked bags containing knives, a smoke grenade and other weapons.

The one-count indictment against Yongda Huang Harris, 28, replaced an original charge of transporting hazardous materials.

If convicted of the new charge, Harris could face up to five years in prison.

Authorities said Harris lied on his customs declaration by not stating that he visited Japan and by stating he had only $100 in items purchased abroad.

His attorney Michael Rosenstein declined comment.

Harris was arrested Oct. 5 on a trip from Japan to Boston. He was wearing the bulletproof vest under a trench coat along with fire-resistant pants and kneepads.

His attire attracted the attention of law enforcement, and when his luggage was checked the weapons cache was found, authorities said.

The search also revealed a hatchet, knives, collapsible baton, handcuffs and other items that were permitted to be transported in checked bags.

Prosecutors, however, said the items looked like a kidnap kit.

The circumstances involving the smoke grenade remained under investigation. Authorities have said it falls into a category of items prohibited on passenger aircraft.

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