Florida man pleads guilty to assault on flight to Dulles Airport

Airplane in flight (via John McArthur/Unsplash)

(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) A man from Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty today to assaulting a flight attendant and interfering with the crew on a plane that was headed to Dulles International Airport in October, federal prosecutors announced.

Cherruy Loghan Sevilla, 24, exhibited “erratic and disruptive behavior” during a United Airlines flight from Miami to Dulles on Oct. 4, at one point preventing a flight attendant from getting to her jump seat and groping her, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said.

From the news release:

About an hour into the flight, Sevilla began to exhibit disruptive and erratic behavior, including wandering around the plane, running up and down the aisle, clapping loudly near the cockpit, and yelling obscenities. Sevilla refused to remain seated and laid on the floor in the aisle of the plane, preventing a flight attendant from walking up the aisle to her jump seat to prepare for landing. Suddenly, the defendant jumped up and lunged at this flight attendant, grabbing and twisting her right breast. A passenger, another flight attendant, and an onboard law enforcement officer attempted to pull the defendant off and subdue him. The defendant resisted and, in the struggle, twisted the arm of the second flight attendant.

As USA Today reported in October, the man told agents at the FBI office in Dulles that he took psilocybin — a psychedelic drug also known as “magic mushrooms” — before boarding the plane in Miami, according to an affidavit.

“This was not the first time Sevilla had consumed Psilocybin, and Sevilla said that he was not totally surprised he acted this way after consuming it,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “Sevilla stated that he was sorry for his actions.”

Sevilla has been scheduled for a sentencing hearing on April 21. He could face up to 20 years in prison, though federal crimes are typically sentenced for lower than the maximum penalties, according to the Department of Justice.

Stories of unruly and combative fliers have multiplied in recent years, as air travel has recovered from the initial months of the pandemic.

Though incidents have declined since March 2022, last year still had 823 reports of unruly passengers — the second-most recorded by the Federal Aviation Administration, behind only the 1,099 incidents reported in 2021.

Photo via John McArthur/Unsplash

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