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Justice News

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

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Los Angeles Man Pleads Guilty to Interference with Flight Attendant on Flight Diverted to Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY – Yesterday, ARIEL JAMES PENNINGTON, 35, of Los Angeles, California, pleaded guilty to interference with a flight attendant, announced Robert J. Troester, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

On January 18, 2022, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Pennington for offenses he committed while traveling on a flight from Arlington, Virginia, to Los Angeles, California.  The incident occurred on board a Delta flight on December 9, 2021.  Count 1 alleged that Pennington assaulted and intimidated a flight attendant, thereby interfering with the flight attendant’s ability to perform their duties. Count 2 alleged that Pennington assaulted a Federal Air Marshal on the same flight.  Yesterday, Pennington pleaded guilty to Count 1 before U.S. District Judge Jodi W. Dishman.

At sentencing, Pennington will face a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, followed by up to three years of supervised release.  As part of a plea agreement, the government has agreed to dismiss at sentencing Count 2 of the indictment.  A sentencing date will be set by the court in approximately 90 days.  This case was charged in the Western District of Oklahoma because the flight was diverted to and landed at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oklahoma City Field Office and the Oklahoma City Police Department.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ashley L. Altshuler and Lori Hines.

Updated April 7, 2022