NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
By Laura McKnight
September 14, 2018
A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Thursday (Sept. 13) in a New Orleans federal court to interfering with an airline crew after he drunkenly threatened the plane's captain and crew during a flight last fall from Chicago to New Orleans, court records show.
Joel Michael Bane, 39, also struck two local law-enforcement officers who had boarded the plane upon its arrival in New Orleans to escort Bane off the aircraft, according to a factual basis for Bane's plea agreement.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo set sentencing for Dec. 13.
Flying off into the sunset as a flight departs to the north from Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, La. Tuesday, September 15, 2015. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) ((Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.c)
An airport worker described Bane as "very large and very muscular" and warned law-enforcement that "four or five officers would be needed to remove the passenger from the plane," according to court records.Bane faced up to 20 years in prison for the conviction, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. But he will receive no prison time and be ordered to probation as part of a plea agreement, defense attorney Frank DeSalvo said Friday. DeSalvo said the incident was caused by miscommunication and compounded by his client's post-traumatic stress disorder.
DeSalvo said that his client, a military veteran diagnosed with PTSD, was reacting in accordance with his training.
"It was just a very unfortunate situation where I think there was a lack of communication, and Mr. Bane was suffering from PTSD from six tours in the Middle East," DeSalvo said, adding that Bane's PTSD has been deemed "a total and permanent disability."
The disturbance, caught at least partially on cellphone video, occurred Oct. 13 as Southwest Airlines Flight 208 neared Louis Armstrong International Airport.
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