LOS ANGELES – A Russian man was found guilty by a jury today of a federal crime for boarding a flight from Denmark to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) without a ticket, passport or visa last November.
Sergey Vladimirovich Ochigava, 46, who held both Russian and Israeli passports, was found guilty of one count of being a stowaway on an aircraft, a crime that carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
According to evidence presented at a three-day trial, on November 3, 2023, Ochigava tailgated an unsuspecting passenger through a security turnstile at Copenhagen Airport in Denmark so that he could enter one of the airport’s terminals without a boarding pass. The next day, he passed through the boarding gate undetected and stowed away aboard a Scandinavian Airlines flight to Los Angeles. During the flight, the cabin crew noticed Ochigava because he moved between multiple unassigned seats.
When the flight landed in Los Angeles on the afternoon of November 4, Ochigava encountered Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the immigration checkpoint at LAX. CBP officers were unable to find any record of Ochigava and discovered that he was not listed as a passenger on that particular Scandinavian Airlines flight or any other incoming international flight. Ochigava was unable to produce a passport, a visa, or other travel document to enter the United States.
In response to CBP officers’ questions, Ochigava gave false and misleading information about his travel to the United States, including telling CBP that he left his passport on the airplane.
Ochigava has been in federal custody since his arrest at LAX on November 4, 2023.
United States District Judge George H. Wu scheduled a February 5 sentencing hearing for Ochigava.
The FBI and CBP investigated this matter. The United States received additional assistance from the Copenhagen Airport Police.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jason A. Gorn and Brandon E. Martinez-Jones of the General Crimes Section are prosecuting this case.