Star Simpson, everybody's favorite LED-bedecked MIT student, got pre-trial probation today after Suffolk County prosecutors acknowledged they didn't have enough evidence to actually charge her with a felony.
You may recall how Simpson was surrounded by police with drawn guns and charged with possession of a "hoax device" after showing up at Logan last September with what proved to be an LED star embroidered in the sweatshirt she was wearing to greet her boyfriend in. An airport worker called in the big guns when she told her it was "art," then turned away and walked out of the terminal.
At a hearing in East Boston District Court today, Simpson was put on one year of supervised pre-trial probation on a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, ordered to perform 50 hours of community service – at least half of which must be spent with veterans of the United States armed forces – and write a letter of apology.
The Suffolk DA's office says:
If Simpson completes those obligations and does not re-offend in any way, then the charge will be dismissed. If she does not meet those terms, the case will be returned to the court docket for trial.
Simpson was initially charged with possession of a hoax device. After an extensive review of the facts and the law – which would require specifically proving that she had "the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort" when she wore a sweatshirt decorated with light-emitting diodes into Logan on Sept. 21, 2007 – prosecutors determined that they could not move forward on that count and dismissed it to the disorderly charge.
Prosecutors additionally weighed Simpson's behavior that morning against her lack of a criminal record, her academic involvement, and the sobering experience of her arrest at gunpoint by members of the Massachusetts State Police responding to what they believed to be a security threat.