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Case Number: 1:21-mj-00784-LF
Court: United States District Court for the District of New Mexico (Bernalillo County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office
Description: Albuquerque, New Mexico interfering with a fight crew member criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant, Asiel Christina Norton, age 43, from Venice, California.
On June 4 Norton was a passenger on a Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Nashville. After takeoff, Norton allegedly rushed to the front of the aircraft and began pounding on the door to the flight deck. When a flight attendant attempted to intervene, Norton allegedly pushed the attendant. Other passengers then assisted the attendant in subduing Norton. The situation caused the flight to be redirected into Albuquerque, where Norton was arrested.
It is a violation of federal law on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States to interfere with a flight attendant in the performance of their duties or to lessen their ability to perform those duties by assault or intimidation. If convicted, Norton faces up to 20 years in prison. A complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
“We take all threats to the safety of air travelers very seriously, and we will vigorously enforce the laws intended to protect air travelers and others placed in danger by breaches in flight security,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, Fred J. Federici. “I am also grateful for the actions of those involved in this incident who helped ensure a safe outcome for the travelers on the airplane.”
“The FBI has no tolerance for individuals who interfere with flight operations and endanger the safety of passengers and airline personnel,” said Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office. “I am pleased many people aboard the flight felt the same way, judging by the courageous attendants and passengers who sprang into action to restrain this person. As more Americans return to the skies, the FBI reminds travelers that misbehavior on board aircraft will not be tolerated and, if warranted, will be thoroughly investigated and referred for prosecution.”
The FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Mysliwiec and Stephen White are prosecuting the case.
Interference with Flight Crew Members and Attendants in violation of 49 U.S.C. 46504, which provides:
An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if a dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member or attendant, the individual shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
Outcome: Pending. He faces up to 20 years in prison but probably will not be sentenced to that length of a period of incarceration.