FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MONDAY - October 6, 2008
GREENVILLE - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that FRANCES MORALES, 42, of Camden, New Jersey pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge David W. Daniel to intimidating a flight crew member and interfering with the performance of the duties or the member/attendant, in violation of Title 49 United States Code, Section 46504.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on August 6, 2008. On July 15, 2008, MORALES, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 931, originating out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, headed to Miami, Florida, left her seat, and using expletives, threatened to physically assault the flight attendants. MORALES refused their request to calm down and return to her seat.
A passenger then attempted to calm MORALES by suggesting she wait in her seat, and file a formal complaint once the plane reached Miami. MORALES responded with expletives and struck the passenger in the face with her hand. A second passenger also then attempted to intervene, and MORALES threatened assault, as well. Due to MORALES’ behavior, the plane was diverted and landed at Raleigh/Durham International Airport.
Mr. Holding stated, “Since 9/11, our nation has become sensitive to unusual behavior occurring on an aircraft. We take these incidents very seriously and will prosecute accordingly.”
For the charge of intimidating a flight crew member, MORALES faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment followed by three years supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. For assaulting another person, MORALES faces a maximum penalty of up to than six months imprisonment, up to a $5000 fine, and five years probation.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.