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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Friday, January 15, 2016

New York Man Pleads Guilty to Rushing Airline Cockpit and Saying “Jihad”

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – David Patrick Diaz, 36, of Poughkeepsie, New York, pleaded guilty today to the charge of interference with flight crew members and attendants.

At his court appearance today, Diaz admitted to shouting threatening statements as he charged the cockpit of a United Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Dulles International Airport in March 2015.  After being tackled by a group of passengers, Diaz said the word, “Jihad,” and he also said that there was something in the belly of the plane.  The passengers and flight attendants were able to restrain Diaz until the plane returned safely to Dulles.

Diaz was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 19, 2015.  Diaz faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on April 1, 2016. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tyler McGaughey and Jonathan Fahey are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-324.

Updated February 4, 2016