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Criminal Charges Dropped Against Aqua Teen Duo

The criminal charges have been dropped against the two men who carried out the AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE movie's guerilla marketing campaign, which caused a bomb scare in Boston in January, reports THE BOSTON GLOBE.

Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens had taken a plea deal to save them from a sentence that could have been up to five years in jail. Berdovsky performed 80 hours and Stevens 60 hours of community service at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where they designed a mural and helped with repairs on the facility's Charles River sailing docks.

"Based upon the defendants' apologies and acceptance of responsibility for their actions in January and the attendant consequences, as well as the positive and substantial efforts at restorative justice made by both men through their community service, we believe that this was the most appropriate resolution to this case," attorney general Martha Coakley said in a statement.

In a statement, Berdovsky said, "Last fall, I was hired to place electronic ads in and around the city of Boston as part of a marketing campaign. I never could have anticipated that the ads would be seen as threatening. However, I realize the importance of being vigilant and careful in these times of global tensions. It is ever more important now to be transparent and honest with each other, keeping our community informed and safe. I deeply regret that this incident caused such anguish and disruption for so many people.

"I acknowledge responsibility for my part in that disruption, and I apologize to the residents of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, and everyone else affected for the hardships they've encountered. I'm happy that I've been able to offer a contribution to the city through my community service.

"I hope I will be given a chance to redeem myself in the eyes of the city by helping make it a safe, peaceful and happy place for all."

Stevens' statement read, "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to say this. Trying to find the words has filled me with sadness, frustration, and fear, but I feel these things need to be said.

"First off, I'd like to apologize to the people of the cities of Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, and Somerville and their families all over the world. I never had any intention or even the slightest idea that something I thought would bring glowing smiles to the fans of the Cartoon Network show AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE would cause alarm to so many people.

"Next, I'd like to thank the authorities of the metro Boston region for doing their best to protect the public from what they believed to be a potential threat based on what they knew at the time. I had no intention of upsetting or alarming anyone.

"I've come to understand after the fact that the media coverage was global and ... worried families of many people living in the greater Boston area. I would not have placed the signs had I envisioned such a reaction and had I not believed that my employer had done what was needed to make it fully legal ...

"In the end, I simply felt this was an opportunity to provide harmless enjoyment to many people while earning a small amount of money to create my own art to share with communities I'm a part of."

Berdovsky, 27, and Stevens, 28, were charged with placing a hoax device in a way that causes panic and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. When they originally appeared in court in Febuary, they "mocked the media with a performance-art skit about the evolution of haircuts," stated the newspaper.

The duo was paid $300 each by Interference Inc., a New York marketing company hired by Turner Broadcasting System, which is the parent company of Cartoon Network. Turner Broadcasting System apologized for the campaign and reimbursed the city $2 million in expanses caused by the bomb scare.

As a result of the scandal, Cartoon Network gm Jim Samples stepped down from his post.

"Today's hearing in Charlestown hopefully marks the conclusion of the fallout from Cartoon Network's guerrilla marketing campaign," mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement. "I hope the message goes out to all guerrilla marketers who plan on doing business in Boston that we take the public safety of those who live and work here very seriously."

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