Outing was just a cheap trip, lawyer says
By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff WriterPublished December 1, 2007
TAMPA - Two road-tripping college kids on a budget.
That's how a federal public defender characterizes Youssef Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed, the suspended University of South Florida students facing federal explosives charges after a deputy stopped them in South Carolina for speeding.
In a pleading filed Friday, Megahed's attorney, Adam Allen, said Mohamed and Megahed were headed to Sunset Beach, N.C., the cheapest way possible.
They bought a global positioning system at Wal-Mart in Ocala, he wrote, so that they could find the cheapest gas prices at Wal-Marts and Murphy Gas Stations along the way.
When a deputy stopped the pair near a naval base on Aug. 4, Mohamed, 26, volunteered that he had "fireworks" and fuses in the car, Allen wrote, but Megahed, 21, didn't know about them.
According to the pleading, Mohamed, who had been in the United States only six months, became fascinated with fireworks before July 4, when he learned they were widely available. But after visiting several fireworks stands, he decided they were too expensive.
So, he turned to YouTube for instructions on how to make "sugar rockets" with stump remover, sugar and cat litter. Mohamed brought the fireworks on the beach road trip with his buddy in hopes he could find an open field to try shooting them off again, Allen wrote.