CARO, Mich. – A Michigan prosecutor asked a judge Wednesday to dismiss the terror charges filed against three Texas men who sparked a security scare after they were arrested with nearly 1,000 cell phones in their van.
A day earlier, a prosecutor in Ohio dropped similar charges against two other men who arrested there with a dozen cell phones, passenger lists and $11,000 in cash.
In Michigan, Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark E. Reene said he was leaving the prosecution to the federal government, which he said had filed its own charges against the men.
An attorney for the three, all Palestinian-Americans, said the federal charges involved counterfeiting, not terrorism.
After the arrests last week, the Coast Guard increased its patrols of Michigan's 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, and Reeity, which alleged they conducted financial transactions involving the proceeds from counterfeit goods.
Louai Othman's wife, Lina Odeh, has said the men were buying the phones to sell to a man in Dallas for a profit of about $5 per phone. She said they were in Michigan because so many people in the Dallas area are doing the same thing that the phones are often sold out.
In the Ohio case, the two arrested men, both from Dearborn, Mich., were released from jail Tuesday.
Authorities had arrested them on a traffic violation in Marietta, Ohio, on Aug. 8 and said they found airplane passenger lists and information on airport security checkpoints along with the cash and cell phones in the car.
The men initially were charged with supporting terrorism after buying large numbers of cell phones. Those charges were dropped, but the men still face misdemeanor counts stemming from allegations that they lied to deputies when questioned.