23-year-old Ohio man who authorities say groped two flight attendants and punched a third before being glued to his seat amid teasing from fellow travelers on a summer flight the latter was sentenced on Tuesday to 60 days in prison.
Portions of the episode, which occurred on a Frontier Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31, 2021, were videotaped. It was among many altercations between service workers and angry customers that have been widely publicized during the pandemic, particularly on commercial flights.
In February, the man, Maxwell Berry of Norwalk, Ohio, pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Miami to three counts of assault. In addition to the jail sentence, Mr. Berry was fined $2,500 and ordered to pay more than $1,500 in restitution.
Mr Berry’s lawyer, Jason Kreiss, had argued in a note to court that he should not go to jail for the crime, saying what he did that day was out of character and that He had already suffered severe punishment in the form of damage to his reputation.
But in an interview Tuesday with ABC Florida affiliate WPLG, Jordan Galarza, the flight attendant Mr Berry punched, called the 60-day sentence a “disgusting denial of justice”.
“He made an enemy of everyone on that flight,” Mr Galarza said. He also defended how Mr. Berry was physically restrained. Although it “sounded a bit barbaric”, Mr Galarza said, “the people on that plane saw justice coming – more than we saw today”.
The clashes over the July 31 flight began when Mr Berry ordered a third booze and rubbed his empty cup against the back of a flight attendant, who said, ‘Don’t touch me’, according to a criminal complaint.
Authorities say Mr Berry’s other passengers were involved after he spilled the drink on himself and walked out of the bathroom shirtless. A flight attendant told him he needed to get dressed and helped him find a shirt in his luggage. Mr. Berry then walked around the plane for about 15 minutes.
He groped two flight attendants on at least two occasions, authorities say, then punched a male flight attendant. Videos from the episode show Mr. Berry arguing with a male flight attendant from his seat as passengers shout “No!” A video shows crew members taping him to the seat.
While restrained, he apparently tried to incite others into conflict by saying, “My parents are worth two fucking million dollars” and “I’m white.” I’m sorry – I can’t change that,” one video shows.
At one point, someone shouted for Mr. Berry’s mouth to be taped shut, and he was briefly gagged.
In his memorandum to the court, Mr. Kreiss, Mr. Berry’s attorney, noted the widespread attention his client’s case had received. “This stigma will follow him and hinder his personal relationships, ability to obtain employment, eligibility for housing, positions of trust and affect other life issues for the foreseeable future,” he wrote. .
In an email after the ruling, Mr Kreiss described the required prison sentence as unnecessary, but added: ‘Max is looking forward to moving on with his life and putting this incident behind him.’
Adam Hapner, the assistant U.S. attorney who worked on the case, declined to comment on the sentencing.
For Mr. Galarza, the flight attendant, the trip was successful in at least one respect. He told WPLG that his primary job on any aircraft “is to protect the passengers, including Maxwell Berry, who we brought to Miami safely that day.”