Kona Man Sentenced for Airline Hoax

At any time, making false claims can be dangerous. For a Kona man, a false claim led to federal prison.

In January 2013, 60-year-old Kona resident Timothy Hershman made a phone call to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from a payphone. During the call, Mr. Hershman stated a passenger on an airborne Alaskan Airlines flight was a dangerous man. Asking the FBI to help prevent a tragedy, Mr. Hershman identified his roommate as a potentially menacing passenger.

In response to the call, two Oregon National Guard F-15 fighter jets intercepted the flight on its way from Kona, Hawaii to Seattle, Washington. The jets escorted the Alaskan Airlines flight to Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle. After questioning Mr. Hershman extensively, the FBI later determined the claim and the call were a hoax and arrested Mr. Hershman.

Facts about the trial of Mr. Hershman include the following:

  • Mr. Hershman apologized to the court during his trial, saying he is an alcoholic and his actions were stupid.
  • Seeking to get revenge on his roommate who had placed fish entrails in his truck, Mr. Hershman made the call when he was under the influence of alcohol.
  • The prosecution sought $72,000 from Mr. Hershman for the operational costs of the emergency response to the hoax call.

When charged with any state or federal charge, effective legal counsel is essential. While Mr. Hershman faced five years in prison for a crime to which he admitted, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Though Mr. Hershman was facing a $250,000 fine plus the emergency operation costs, the court found that he was unable to pay either sum and assessed no financial penalty.

When dealing with any serious criminal charge in Hawaii, talk to an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.