Passenger cries foul after apple butter leads to $2K fine from TSA

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan woman says she has been fighting with the federal Transportation Security Administration for years after she was fined $2,000 for trying to carry apple butter onto a flight.

“I think they’ve treated me like I’m a criminal,” Mary Hostein, 63, told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday. “I’m a nobody fighting a government agency that I feel is being relentless.”

Hostein said that in January 2013, she was trying to board a plane at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina but was stopped at the TSA checkpoint because she had a pint-sized jar of souvenir apple butter. TSA agents told her she could not take it onto the plane in her carry-on bag, citing the prohibition of containers carrying more than three ounces of liquid or gel.

She said she went away, then came back later and went through another security line, thinking the butter really wasn’t in violation. Again, agents found the apple butter and confronted her.

She made her flight, but had to leave the apple butter behind. She thought the situation was over.

A month later, she received a letter from TSA telling her she was under investigation. Though she did put her bag through the X-ray machine in her carry-on bag again, the letter claimed that her attempt to go through another security line was an effort to circumvent security.

“Is this for real?” she remembered thinking after receiving the letter.

As the letter requested, she responded with her side of the story and heard nothing until June 2014. That’s when a new letter arrived, detailing the findings against her and imposing a $2,000 fine.

She said her attempts to negotiate with the TSA have been unsuccessful so far and that her latest communication from the agency was an official notice demanding she begin making payments or face further action.

A TSA representative responded to a Wednesday phone inquiry from 24 Hour News 8 but declined to comment publicly, citing the possibility of civil litigation.

Hostein said she wasn’t aiming to do anything nefarious with the flavored topping and thinks the TSA should drop the fine levied against her.

“Is this really what you pay your manpower to do?” she asked rhetorically of the TSA. “Is this really protecting our country?”

>>Our sister station WOOD-TV first reported this story

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