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Turner, contractor to pay $2M in Boston bomb scare

Story Highlights

• Turner Broadcasting will reimburse agencies, pay for homeland security
• More than three dozen blinking electronic signs found in Boston area Wednesday
• Signs were part of Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" ad campaign
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BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Turner Broadcasting System and Interference Inc. have agreed to pay $2 million to make amends for last Wednesday's guerrilla marketing scheme that led to a bomb scare in Boston, the Massachusetts attorney general said Monday.

TBS is the parent company of Cartoon Network and its Adult Swim group, which initiated the marketing scheme. It is also the parent company of CNN.

The settlement included about $1 million to cities and state agencies for their response and another $1 million in goodwill funding. (Watch city and state officials announce the deal Video)

Boston will get more than $484,590.

Interference, a marketing company and contractor of Turner Broadcasting, hired two men to place 38 electronic devices in locations in and around Boston.

Early Wednesday, transit police were notified about one of them in Charlestown and treated it as a possible bomb.

That resulted in a widespread response by numerous law enforcement agencies.

"I think Turner learned a lesson: that they will not tolerate this type of advertising any further," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told reporters.

In a written statement, he described the company as "extremely cooperative."

He said he had no regrets about the city's response. "I would just say that the folks who second-guessed us because we did go out and do our work, shame on them."

"Last week's events caused a major disruption in the greater Boston area on many levels -- crippling public transportation, causing serious traffic problems, negatively affecting local businesses, and perhaps most significantly, costing Boston and surrounding communities thousands of dollars," Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a written statement.

"It is our hope that these funds will cover not only the expenses incurred by the many agencies who participated in the response and investigation of the devices discovered in the Boston area last Wednesday, but they will also enable our communities to enhance homeland security, or to pursue other important community initiatives."

The approximately $1,000,000 in "goodwill funds" will be divided among the involved agencies for use by programs that support homeland security, community education and awareness, emergency response preparedness, training and equipment, or other appropriate community security and safety education.

TBS, Interference accept full responsibility

In addition to making the payment, TBS and Interference issued a public statement accepting full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the hoax devices and apologizing to the communities and agencies involved and to the general public.

"We understand now that in today's post-September 11 environment, it was reasonable and appropriate for citizens and law enforcement officials to take any perceived threat posed by our light boards very seriously and to respond as they did," the statement said.

"We are reviewing our policies concerning local marketing efforts and strategies to ensure that they are not disruptive or perceived as threatening, and are committed to making any necessary changes to our internal processes to prevent similar incidents in the future.

"We will continue to provide our full cooperation to federal, state and local public officials and law enforcement, and we appreciate the timeliness and professionalism they showed in response to legitimate public safety concerns that resulted from our actions." (Full statement)

Charges remain against two men who placed devices

Charges against the two men hired by Interference -- Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens -- remain and are not part of the agreement.

"However, prosecutors have begun discussions with their defense counsel regarding a resolution of the criminal charges short of trial," the attorney general said.

The light board devices mistaken for bombs in Boston depicted a "Mooninite" -- a moon man that appears on Adult Swim's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

The uproar began early Wednesday when someone notified an inspector with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority that a suspicious device was hanging in a tunnel.

Soon afterward, similar devices were found at other points in the city, forcing a shutdown of traffic on Highway 93, several bridges and part of the Charles River.

The discovery of the light boards led state, local and federal authorities to close the Boston University and Longfellow Bridges and block boat traffic from the Charles River to Boston Harbor.

Turner Broadcasting said the devices had been in place for two to three weeks in Boston; New York; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. No one in any of the other cities had reported them as suspicious devices. All light boards that had not previously been removed by the public were taken down by officials or Interference after the Boston uproar.


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Turner Broadcasting will pay $2 million to make amends for the ad campaign that turned into a bomb scare, Attorney General Martha Coakley said Monday.

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