January 28, 2010 - PAUL HENRY BORITZER, a/k/a John I. Michaels, age 46, a resident of New York, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier to ten (10) months' incarceration, with five of those months being served in a halfway house, for interfering with a flight crew and impersonating a Federal Air Marshal while he was travelling from New York to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Additionally, Judge Barbier ordered the defendant to pay a $20,000 fine and serve three (3) years' supervised release, during which time he will be under federal supervision and risks additional imprisonment should he violate the terms of the supervision.
Court documents show that BORITZER was convicted by a federal jury after a two-day trial. The jury unanimously found that on February 20, 2009, BORITZER, while onboard JetBlue flight 119, created a disturbance by refusing to obey the lawful instructions of the flight attendants and the Captain. BORITZER intimidated and threatened a flight attendant after he was denied alcoholic beverages during the flight and falsely claimed he was a Federal Air Marshal to the flight crew.
Speaking to this sentence U. S. Attorney Jim Letten stated:
“An abusive air traveller who intentionally disregarded and threatened the security of passengers and crew is now headed to federal prison. This conviction and prison sentence of an intoxicated air traveller for federal violations including interfering with a flight crew and impersonating a U.S. Air Marshal will serve as a clear and unambiguous signal that we in federal enforcement have absolutely no tolerance for disruptive conduct which threatens to diminish the efficiency of flight crews and thereby threatens the safety of passengers. Any such conduct will be met by swift and decisive enforcement action by the FBI, U.S. Air Marshals, and the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Special Agent in Charge David W. Welker commented:
“As stated at the time of conviction, crimes aboard an aircraft are taken very seriously by the FBI and our partners the Federal Air Marshals. These crimes place passengers and flight crews in harm’s way, and will therefore be aggressively investigated and prosecution pursued by the FBI.”
According to Federal Air Marshal’s Service, Houston Field Office Special Agent in Charge Joanne Oxford:
“I applaud the competent efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute and secure a strict sentence for these serious crimes. Federal Air Marshals are law enforcement officers dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public. Let this sentence serve as a deterrent and reminder that the federal law enforcement community partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute these serious crimes to ensure the safety and security of the traveling public.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys W. Scott Laragy and Gregory Kennedy.