A Columbia man was sentenced Wednesday to six months' probation after he pleaded guilty to sending a fake bomb to his brother's law office in Glen Burnie in December.
Frank Weisberg, a 34-year-old jazz piano player, must pay a $200 fine, perform 16 hours of community service within 90 days and pay $1,450 in restitution for the overtime worked by more than a dozen state and Anne Arundel County police and fire officials.
Glen Burnie District Judge James W. Dryden could have sent Mr. Weisberg to jail for one year and fined him $10,000.
Dennis Weisberg, the defendant's brother and intended victim of the practical joke gone awry, called the sentence "perfectly fair."
"Everyone does something stupid," said Mr. Weisberg, a 40-year-old corporate lawyer. "He [Frank Weisberg] did something stupid, too. It's just that he ended up with these incredible consequences."
On Dec. 20, Frank Weisberg dropped off a 9-by-11-inch package, stamped with a swastika, at the front door of his brother's first-floor law office in the 7400 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd.
Dennis Weisberg's secretary believed the parcel to be a bomb and called county police.
Eight county police officers, a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent, a bomb technician from the state fire marshal's office, county firefighters and two trucks from the State Highway Administration responded.
The package was taken to Sawmill Creek Park, where the bomb technician opened it and found an empty shotgun shell and a puzzle called "How To Kill A Lawyer."
Dennis Weisberg said his brother admitted that he and his two sisters had engineered the joke and were humiliated by all the commotion it had caused.
"This was something that was not intended," Mr. Weisberg said. "He just thought that it was clever, and he didn't think that the office staff would've reacted the way they did react."
Judge Dryden said he imposed the lesser penalties because Frank Weisberg had a clean criminal record and was remorseful.
Still, the judge said, "the point is that other people are scared, considering these times, and that is something that the defendant should have anticipated." If Frank Weisberg complies with conditions of his probation, the judge will clear his record.
"It got completely out of hand," Mr. Weisberg said. "I think our family has gone through enough anguish and embarrassment from this thing."