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Press Release

North Carolina Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Punching Passenger on Commercial Flight to Portland

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

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Charlotte, North Carolina man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to federal prison today for punching a fellow passenger in the face on a Portland-bound commercial flight from Denver.

Yuriy Poplauskiy, 40, was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison and one year of supervised release.

According to court documents, on August 14, 2019, on a commercial flight from Denver to Portland, several passengers observed Poplauskiy exhibiting strange behavior, leading some to believe he was intoxicated. With 25 minutes remaining in the flight, Poplauskiy peered through a gap in the seats at a man sitting behind him on the aisle. Poplauskiy glared at the man and mumbled “when we land, I’ll see you at the airport.” Poplauskiy then stood up, called the man a name, and punched him in the jaw. Poplauskiy ran to the lavatory, but eventually returned to his seat. Minutes later, prior to landing, Poplauskiy tried to start a fight with another male passenger and groped a male flight attendant’s genitals. Police officers met the plane at the gate in Portland and arrested Poplauskiy.

On September 18, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Poplauskiy with assault by striking while on board an aircraft. Before sentencing today, he pleaded guilty to the single charge.

Prior to his plea and sentencing, Poplauskiy violated his pre-trial release conditions six times, including by incurring two new criminal convictions for unlawfully possessing methamphetamine and eluding arrest in a motor vehicle.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Port of Portland Police Department and the Portland Police Bureau. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

Updated November 7, 2022

Violent Crime