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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty To Assaulting A Flight Attendant On Jacksonville Flight

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Joseph Michael Sharkey (36, Reston, VA) has pleaded guilty to assault or intimidation of a flight attendant.  He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.  After pleading guilty yesterday, Sharkey was ordered to remain in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

According to court documents, on January 31, 2016, Sharkey was a passenger on Jet Blue Flight 715 from Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC to Jacksonville International Airport (JIA). During the final 20 minutes of the flight, Sharkey attempted to place another passenger in a headlock. A flight attendant assisted that passenger and ordered Sharkey to take a seat. Sharkey at first complied but then kneed the flight attendant in the groin and stated that he was going to exit the airplane through an exit door. With the help of volunteers, the flight attendants subdued Sharkey and placed him in flex cuffs for the remainder of the flight. The airplane landed safely at JIA and Sharkey was removed from the flight by airport police.   

This case was investigated by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority Police Department and the Jacksonville Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Campion.

Updated March 23, 2016