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Press Release

Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty To Starting Fire During Delta Flight

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado

DENVER – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced that Robert Vincent Allen, a resident of Pennsylvania, has pleaded guilty to the attempted destruction of an aircraft. Allen appeared remotely, and is free on bond.  The Denver Division of the FBI joined in today’s announcement.

According to the stipulated facts contained in Allen’s plea agreement, on the morning of April 1, 2020, Allen boarded Delta Air Lines flight #1706 at the Los Angeles International Airport scheduled to fly to Detroit, Michigan. Shortly after take-off, other passengers observed Allen acting strangely, moving continuously about the cabin, and switching seats. Delta crewmembers monitored Allen, advised the pilot in command of a possible issue and attempted to get Allen settled.  Allen later entered the lavatory, and refused to come out again.  The lavatory smoke alarm sounded.  Crewmembers forced open the door, removed Allen from the lavatory and extinguished burning paper he set on fire. 

Upon hearing the smoke alarm, the pilot in command concluded that he could not safely operate the aircraft with a fire onboard and diverted the flight to Denver International Airport (DIA). Crewmembers seated him in the last row of the plane. Officers arrested Allen after the flight landed at DIA.

Allen was charged in a federal criminal complaint on April 2, 2020, and indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on June 2, 2020.  The guilty plea was entered before U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello on August 26, 2020.

Allen will be sentenced on December 16, 2020.  He faces not more than 20 years in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and payment of restitution to Delta Air Lines.

This case was investigated by the Denver FBI and the Denver Police Department. The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Davies.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado. Related court documents can be found on PACER by searching for Case Number 20-cr-147.

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Jeff Dorschner
Spokesman, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
303-454-0243 direct; 303-489-2047 cell

Updated August 27, 2020

Press Release Number: Case Number 20-cr-147