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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Oklahoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Indictment Unsealed Charging Los Angeles Man with Assaulting and Interfering with a Flight Attendant and Federal Air Marshal Onboard Delta Flight

OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed yesterday charging JAMES ARIEL PENNINGTON, 45, of Los Angeles, California, on charges of interference with a flight attendant and assault on a federal officer with physical contact, announced United States Attorney Robert J. Troester.

On January 18, 2022, a federal grand jury sitting in Oklahoma City returned the Indictment.  It alleges that on December 9, 2021, Pennington was onboard Delta Airlines flight 342, traveling from Arlington, Virginia, to Los Angeles, California.  During that flight, Pennington knowingly assaulted and intimidated a flight attendant of the aircraft, thereby interfering with the flight attendant and lessening the ability of the flight attendant to perform his duties.  The Indictment further alleges that Pennington assaulted a Federal Air Marshal while the Federal Air Marshal was engaged in his official duties, causing physical contact with the Federal Air Marshal.  The flight was diverted to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, where Oklahoma City Police Department Officers escorted Pennington from the aircraft.

The indictment was sealed until Pennington was located, taken into custody, and appeared in federal court in California.

If found guilty, Pennington faces a maximum potential penalty on each count of twenty years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.

This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Oklahoma City Field Office and the Oklahoma City Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ashley L. Altshuler and Lori Hines are prosecuting the case.

The public is reminded that these charges are merely allegations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Reference is made to the attached indictment and public records for more information.

Updated March 9, 2022