Kelly Pichardo was sentenced to 4 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release for interfering with flight crew members.
Pichardo “engaged in unruly and intimidating behavior” that got her removed from an American Airlines flight.
Pichardo was ordered to pay $9,123 in restitution to American Airlines and was placed on an “internal refuse list.”
A New York woman was sentenced to four months in prison and must pay thousands in restitution after she interfered with flight crew members during a 2021 American Airlines flight.
A US District Judge sentenced Kelly Pichardo, a 32-year-old from the Bronx, to four months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, according to a Department of Justice press release. Pichardo was also ordered to pay $9,123 in restitution to American Airlines after she previously pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members, the press release said.
According to the press release, Pichardo and co-defendant Leeza Rodriguez “engaged in unruly and intimidating behavior” as they traveled in first class from Dallas, Texas to Los Angeles, California in February 2021. NBC News reported that Pichardo and Rodriguez each assaulted a passenger and then used racial slurs on a passenger who attempted to make them stop. Pichardo reportedly spat at the passenger as he recorded the incident, according to NBC.
Ultimately, the flight had to be diverted to Phoenix, Arizona, where the women were removed from the plane, per the DOJ press release.
“There is a line between boorish behavior on an airplane and criminal activity, and the defendant clearly crossed it,” US Attorney Gary Restaino said in the press release. “First class passengers are not immune from prosecution: defendant’s verbal and physical intimidation disrupted the travel of passengers and crew alike.”
According to sentencing documents, Pichardo’s defense asked for 60 months of probation or for her to serve her four-month prison sentence as home detention, arguing that she suffered from several mental illnesses and was triggered on the 2021 flight.
“Ms. Pichardo respectfully disagrees with the government that a sentence involving prison is necessary. Ms. Pichardo acknowledges that this incident caused harm and she wants to make things right. The best way she can do this is through paying restitution and remaining law abiding,” Federal Public Defender Jon Sands wrote in a sentencing memo last month.
American Airlines said at the time of the incident that the women’s behavior was “disturbing and unacceptable” and that they had been placed on an “internal refuse list” (which is different from the federal No-Fly list), CBS News reported.
Pichardo’s co-defendant, Rodriguez, also pleaded guilty and is due to be sentenced in November, according to the DOJ press release.
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