New York man whose behavior caused flight to St. Louis to be hijacked sentenced to 40 days in jail, $8,000 restitution | USAO-EDMO

ST. LOUIS — U.S. District Judge John A. Ross on Tuesday sentenced a New York man to 40 days in jail for causing the hijacking of an American Airlines flight bound for Las Vegas to St. Louis in 2020 and him ordered to pay $8,000 to the airline.

James Patrick Maloney Jr., 37, of Honeoye, upstate New York, pleaded guilty in April to one count of interfering with crew members by assault.

The incident on the Sept. 12, 2020, flight from Charlotte to Las Vegas began when a flight attendant spotted Maloney without his mask, drinking a beer he hadn’t bought on the plane. Maloney admitted in his plea that he responded to the attendant’s request to put on his mask with swear words and racial epithets. When the flight crew gave the defendant a final written warning, he told them he would crumple up their warning and throw it in their face.

After Maloney returned from a trip to the bathroom, he became very agitated when he failed to see his girlfriend, argued with a flight attendant, then rushed over and attempted to punch an attendant edge, according to his plea. However, Maloney’s girlfriend caught him before he touched the stewardess.

The plane was then diverted to St. Louis, where Maloney was arrested. Maloney yelled at and insulted airport police when they put him in their handcuffed car to take him to the train station, according to Maloney’s plea.

In addition to the jail sentence, Judge Ross banned Maloney from consuming alcohol, ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service, and ordered him to undergo drug testing and treatment and mental health counseling.

The $8,000 compensation represents a portion of the costs and expenses incurred by the airline due to the delay caused by Maloney’s behavior.

In court on Tuesday, Judge Ross called Maloney’s behavior “outrageous” and said passengers could not know if his conduct would escalate to endanger their lives. “The terror that people must have felt – it’s inexcusable,” he said.

The case was investigated by the St. Louis Lambert Airport Police Department and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Lang prosecuted the case.

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