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Press Release

Utah Man Admits Responsibility for Interfering with Flight Crew

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

PITTSBURGH - A Utah resident pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of interference with flight crew members and attendants, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Steven Douglas Pectol, 40, of Mapleton, Utah, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that, on Oct. 11, 2015, Pectol interfered with the flight crew of US Airways Flight 632 by assaulting and intimidating the flight attendants and crew by disregarding instructions to remain in his seat, making threatening statements, attempting to physically force his way to the front galley of the airplane while pushing one of the attendants, and needing to be physically restrained by attendants and passengers as the plane landed while the defendant attempted to kick and head-butt attendants as he was being restrained. As a result of the defendant’s actions, US Airways Flight 632, flying from Phoenix, Arizona, to New York City, New York, had to be diverted to Pittsburgh International Airport.

Judge Hornak scheduled sentencing for March 16, 2016. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney James T. Kitchen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Pectol.

Updated February 4, 2016