Actor and comedian T.J. Miller has been arrested on federal charges accusing him of calling in a fake bomb threat on an Amtrak train because of a “grudge” against a fellow passenger.
Miller appeared to be drunk on the train and had “hostile exchanges” with a woman who was sitting in another row of the first class car on the trip from New York to Washington, federal authorities say. Investigators say they believe Miller wanted the woman to get into trouble when he made the bomb threat. Four trains were delayed during the incident, causing delays of several hours for more than 1,000 passengers.
Miller, 36, was charged with intentionally conveying to law enforcement false information about an explosive device, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut says in a press release. He was arrested Monday night at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, and appeared before a judge in Connecticut on Tuesday. He was released from custody after posting $100,000 bond. Miller faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
The incident occurred March 18. The former “Silicon Valley” star is accused of calling 911 while the train was in New Jersey and telling dispatchers he was on Amtrak Train 2256 traveling from Washington, D.C., toward Penn Station in New York City and a female passenger “has a bomb in her bag.” He described the woman as having brown hair and wearing a scarf, prosecutors say.
According to the criminal complaint, by the time Miller made the call and Amtrak officials were notified, they found that the train was in Connecticut. “Amtrak officials stopped Train 2256 at Green’s Farms Station in Westport, where passengers were directed to detrain, and bomb squad members boarded and searched the train. No evidence of any explosive device or materials was detected,” prosecutors say.
According to an NBC Connecticut report from the time, the train was stopped about 7 p.m. and 224 passengers and crew members were removed from the train while a search was conducted. The train was held in Connecticut until 8:30 p.m., when it was then cleared to continue on to Boston.
Investigators then called Miller, who was in New York, and Miller then described the woman as having red hair and wearing a red scar, while carrying a “black bag carry on suitcase with a handle.” According to the press release:
He said she kept checking her bag without taking anything out; kept asking the First Class attendant what the next stop was, and seemed to want to get off the train and leave her bag behind. The officer detected slurring in MILLER’s voice and asked if he had consumed alcohol that day. MILLER replied that he had consumed “one glass of red wine.” Asked if he suffered from mental illness, MILLER replied “no, absolutely not. This is the first time I’ve ever made a call like this before. I am worried for everyone on that train. Someone has to check that lady out.”
Investigators determined Miller had actually been on Amtrak Train 2258, not 2256. When Amtrak Train 2258 arrived at Green’s Farms Station, it was also stopped, inspected and found to not contain any explosive devices or materials.
Amtrak officers interviewed a First Class car attendant where Miller had been sitting, according to the criminal complaint. The attendant said Miller “appeared intoxicated upon boarding in Washington,” and then consumed multiple drinks on the train. Miller was removed from the train in New York, “owing to his intoxication,” prosecutors said. The attendant also said that Miller was “involved in hostile exchanges with a woman sitting in a different row from him in the First Class car.”
According to the criminal complaint, investigators talked to the woman he had the exchanges with and found that she was not carrying any explosives, did not have a “carry on suitcase with a handle” and had not been “checking her bag without taking anything out,” as Miller had claimed. They also found that she would have been out of Miller’s view unless he stood up repeatedly to observe her.
Prosecutors allege that Miller was motivated by a grudge against the woman and called 911 to “relay false information about a suspected bomb on the train, and continued to convey false information to investigators while the public safety response was ongoing,” according to the press release.
You can read the full criminal complaint below:
According to the press release, “This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Connecticut State Police, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department, Amtrak Police Department, and Westport Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry K. Kopel.”
Miller has not yet commented about his arrest and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney. He was detained at LaGuardia Airport in New York after returning from a comedy show tour in Canada. Video obtained by TMZ shows Miller being led out of the airport by FBI agents.
He was previously arrested in December 2016 after an Uber driver accused him of smacking him. According to TMZ, a civil case was settled last month in that incident and Miller did not face criminal charges.
In December 2017, a woman came forward with accusations that Miller sexually assaulted her while they were students at George Washington University in 2001. The woman told The Daily Beast she decided to tell her story because of the #MeToo movement. Miller has denied those accusations.