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Man claims to ship himself, via crate on UPS, to Las Vegas

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A professional magician who claims he transported himself aboard a cargo plane on a cross-country flight from upstate New York to Las Vegas may find it difficult to escape prosecution from federal authorities who want to know if he really pulled off the stunt.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A professional magician who claims he transported himself aboard a cargo plane on a cross-country flight from upstate New York to Las Vegas may find it difficult to escape prosecution from federal authorities who want to know if he really pulled off the stunt.

Wade Whitcomb said he folded himself into a cramped wooden crate - stamped with "theatrical equipment" and bearing red "Fragile" stickers - for the 26-hour trip, first on a United Parcel Service truck then aboard a UPS plane. Seated on a wooden bench, he sipped water and ate cashews, Cheez-Its, potato chips and chocolate. His biggest complaint: Boredom.

Whitcomb, who goes by the stage name Wade Live, said he made the trip last November as a publicity stunt for a buddy's Web site, videotaping the trip with four tiny cameras pointed out of the crate and another inside focused on him.

The Transportation Security Administration and the FBI are investigating Whitcomb's claim, said TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding. The stunt would violate a number of laws but Uselding declined to be specific because the case is under investigation.

Dan McMackin, a spokesman for Atlanta-based UPS, said Whitcomb's claim may be a hoax.

"I can't verify it one way or the other. If you watch the video, you can't tell if it was real or not. To me, it seems like a publicity stunt, and therefore, I think it could be a hoax," McMackin said. UPS is also investigating.

Contacted by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Whitcomb said his lawyer told him to stop talking to the media because of the investigation.

In an interview last week with The Post-Standard of Syracuse, Whitcomb said he worked with Ryan Breen on the stunt to promote Breen's new Web site, Ventma.com. Videos purportedly showing Whitcomb's excursion are posted on the site.

Whitcomb of North Syracuse, and Breen, 29, of Savannah, in Wayne County, have been friends for about five years.

Prefaced by a "Warning, Do Not Attempt" message, they show Whitcomb climbing into a crate marked "theatrical equipment" with a change of clothes and snacks for the trip. Once in the crate, the videos, taken through nail-sized holes, appear to show it being picked up by a UPS truck and taken to the airport in Syracuse, 2,117 miles from Las Vegas. The clips also appear to show the crate being moved by a forklift inside a warehouse.

Whitcomb didn't tell the newspaper how much the trip cost but according to a calculator on the UPS Web site, it would cost about $4,500 to ship a 250-pound, 5 foot-by-4-foot-by-4-foot package by air from Savannah, N.Y. to Las Vegas for guaranteed next-day delivery.

He says he was met in Las Vegas by Breen and two other friends, who had parked their truck on a city street. In the video, the crate is opened as cars can be seen driving by.

Whitcomb said he worked for UPS several years ago and he and Breen made sure the crate would be shipped in a pressurized container.

"That's what they ship dogs and live plants in," he said. "That's why we paid . . . to make sure I wasn't going to die."