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TSA Fines Woman $2,000 Over Apple Butter

A Michigan woman who was determined to bring home a souvenir jar of apple butter says she will continue to fight a hefty fine from the TSA for “attempting to circumvent security.”

When a TSA agent at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) told Mary Hostein, 63, that she couldn’t bring a pint-sized jar of apple butter in her carry-on, the West Michigan woman refused to accept that her souvenir was really in violation of airport security policies. However, rather than fight the agent’s ruling, Hostein simply walked away and attempted to pass through another security line. After a second agent told Hostein that her apple butter was prohibited, she accepted the “second opinion” and left her spread behind.

Hostein’s brush with the TSA occurred in January of 2013, but she recently told Grand Rapids NBC affiliate WoodTV she is still dealing with fallout from the incident. According to Hostein, she didn’t think anymore about the lost apple butter or her experience with TSA at CLT until about a month later, when she received a letter from the agency informing her that she was being investigated for attempting to circumvent security after attempting to bring the prohibited item through the checkpoint a second time.

Hostein says she initially didn’t believe what she was reading, telling WoodTV she recalled thinking, “Is this for real?”

Hostein responded to the letter as requested and explained her side of the story in writing. This time, she didn’t hear back from the agency for over a year. In June of 2014, Hostein received another letter from the TSA informing her that she is liable for a $2,000 fine for the infraction.

Hostein says that she has been unsuccessful in attempts to get information from the TSA about how to defend herself against the charges and the imposed fine. She says efforts to negotiate the amount of the fine have also been ignored.

The latest letter from the agency, coming nearly two years after the her apple butter was impounded, simply demanded that she pay the fine or face further legal action. Still, Hostein vows to continue her fight against the seemingly immovable force of the federal government.

“I think they’ve treated me like I’m a criminal,” she says. “I’m a nobody fighting a government agency that I feel is being relentless.”

[Photo: WoodTV]

Comments are Closed.
Parkerthon October 14, 2015

Oh come on folks. I understand bitchy non-compliant passengers need to be brought to heel when it comes to taking TSA security seriously, but if she sought a second opinion(and didn't try to sneak it through the second time) by simply trying another line and making her case again, I don't see how the word "circumvent" is applicable here. She gave it up, got some nasty gram from TSA, replied to the threatening letter in writing, and then this perfect example of government bureaucrats fines her a year later? That's even more ridiculous than being emotionally attached to a jar of apple butter.

Carl Johnson October 13, 2015

Pharmalady, haha, sure, you've spent time on medical missions, sure you have. Sure, you've done stuff with your live other than sneer at victims of bullies with plastic badges. The regulation is against *circumventing* security. She didn't circumvent anything. So you can talk about a "woman who broke the law" all you want, but it didn't happen, no matter how often you repeat the words "broke the law." Those words aren't a magic spell, you can't make something true by repeating it over and over. And "If an officer of TSA told her something, she was informed"?????? Don't make me laugh. The TSA doesn't have officers, they have clerks who do a job that is as challenging as that of a Wal-mart greeter, and don't come anywhere close to exhibiting the initiative and resourcefulness displayed by the worst Wal-mart greeter. TSA clerks have repeatedly told passengers that filming at the checkpoint is prohibited. Q.E.D.

Douglas Kidd October 13, 2015

Typical of TSA, vindictive, vengeful, and petty; more interested in terrorizing passengers than protecting them. Btw, the law doesn't say you can't bring liquids or jels through security. The purpose of screening, according to 49usc44902, is to determine "whether the property unlawfully contains a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance." So was she carrying a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance? No, and TSA knew it. Since when is getting a second opinion a crime? My experience has been that TSA screeners often don't know their own rules. One TSA HQ employee told me "There is a divorce between policy and enforcement." The 'TSA cares' help line will tell passengers one thing, the screeners will disregard it and say another. So why harass a woman over something that was not "a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance"? Based on my experience, TSA employees seem to enjoy harassing elderly women. Here's a better idea. Fire the TSA employee who imposed the fine, apologize to the woman, and pay her for her lost apple butter.

pharmalady October 13, 2015

Carl: Why don't you spend your time doing something more productive than whining about TSA? She broke the rules, got caught trying to get around them and was fined. Ignorance of the law has never been a successful defense, but you seem to think it is. And I have spent more time on medical missions actually helping people than you have spent behind a keyboard whining about a woman who broke the law. If an officer of TSA told her something, then guess what? She was informed. No sympathy here, except for your mother.

Carl Johnson October 12, 2015

Pharmalady, why don't you spend your time volunteering to help victims of waterborne diseases, rather than denigrating and sneering at airline passengers who make the (quite reasonable) assumption that TSA clerks, given their well-known and frequently observed laziness and stupidity, don't know or follow the rules of their jobs. Or, you can spend your time as you choose, and I will spend my time as I choose. "Told the rules"? By a screening clerk? How many times have screening clerks told passengers that the rules prohibit screening at the checkpoint. There's no reason to assume that any statement of the rules by any screening clerk is correct, so she was justified in trying another clerk who would understand the rules better. And seriously? It doesn't matter that the TSA misses 95% of weapons? The TSA misses 95% of weapons because they spend all their time worrying about whether cupcake frosting and apple butter are liquids. The War on Water is a leading reason the TSA has no effect on airline security, other than to increase the (fortunately so minimal as to be practically nonexistent) danger.