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Ford airport gun charges dropped against two men | News

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Ford airport gun charges dropped against two men
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Misdemeanor charges were dismissed this week against two men who had handguns in their carry-on luggage while passing through security screening at Gerald R. Ford International Airport this spring.

The men, arrested in separate incidents, were charged with bringing a weapon into a sterile area of the airport. The offense is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Investigators determined that in both cases, the men had no criminal intent, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth said Thursday.

"It's usually someone in a hurry, pressed for time,'' Forsyth said. "They're as surprised as the screeners.''

Airport police on April 20 arrested 51-year-old James Brian Osterhaven after the Caledonia man passed through a security checkpoint with a loaded 9mm handgun in his backpack.

Three weeks later, Richard Thomas Helming of Leavenworth, Kansas was arrested when screeners found a loaded .357 Colt revolver in his luggage. The 69-year-old man was attempting to fly from Grand Rapids to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at the time of the May 14 incident.

Charges were dismissed ahead of pretrial conferences scheduled for both men this week at 63rd District Court.

The two are the only ones to be charged with the offense this year. In 2014, five people were prosecuted in Kent County under the statute.

"We review them on a case-by-case basis, and if it's apparent the person had no idea they had a weapon in their luggage, it was a simple oversight, we've dismissed the criminal charges,'' Forsyth said.

But that's not to say they're completely off the hook.

As part of the deal, the pair had their guns confiscated and concealed pistol licenses revoked. They'll have to reapply for a concealed weapons permit, Forsyth said.

And they still face the possibility of a fine of up to $7,500 from the Transportation Security Administration, which Forsyth called "substantial.''


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