TAMPA — A man who pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle a box cutter in a book through Tampa International Airport security was sentenced Thursday to a year's probation.
Benjamin Baines Jr., 22 of Largo, faced up to six months in prison. He told Senior U.S. District Judge William J. Castagna that he is "a good kid" who learned from his mistake.
Baines pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle a box cutter onto an airplane through the hollowed out pages of a book in his backpack. Airport security officers spotted the cutter in an X-ray image as Baines prepared to board a Southwest Airlines flight on Feb. 17. Baines said he used the book to hide marijuana from his roommates and had forgotten that the knife was in there.
Baines was on his way to Nevada, where he planned to begin working with his father, said defense attorney Thomas Ostrander. "This was a difficult circumstance that does not reflect his character," Ostrander said in court. "This has been a difficult disruption in his life."
Ostrander said other items found inside Baines' backpack made the incident more "sensational" than it was. Baines also had a Koran, a Bible, gang literature and hand-written rap lyrics.
Baines pleaded guilty to state charges of carrying a concealed weapon on the day of his arrest and served 30 days in the Hillsborough County jail.
Kevin Graham can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3433.