Crime

American Airlines flight attendant to judge: I did not disrupt flights

An American Airlines flight attendant accused of striking co-workers and federal marshals on an overseas Thanksgiving flight also tried to open the doors of the aircraft while it taxied for takeoff for the return trip to Charlotte, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

Joanne Snow is accused of two aviation-related federal crimes that carry a maximum combined penalty of more than 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

During a Tuesday hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Savage said Snow should be held without bond because she poses a risk to the public and herself.

Snow’s court-appointed attorney, Elizabeth Blackwood of Charlotte, pushed for Snow’s release, saying her client has a home and adult children in New Hampshire where she can be supervised and monitored.

Cayer set a detention hearing for Friday morning.

At the start of Tuesday’s hearing, a visibly agitated Snow talked over her attorney and directly to Cayer. When Blackwood tried to intervene at one point, Snow pressed on.

“I’m talking to the judge right now,” she said.

Cayer then began telling Snow that she is charged with interfering with flight crew members and attendants, and assaulting an officer of the United States. The gray-haired flight attendant interrupted him.

“No sir, I did not,” she said.

“I’m not asking you that,” the judge replied.

Court documents say Snow’s erratic behavior disrupted both legs of a holiday flight from Charlotte to Frankfurt, Germany. According to an affidavit filed by an air marshal on board for the round trip, Snow slapped a co-worker, and grabbed and punched marshals.

As the aircraft taxied for takeoff in Frankfurt, Snow tried to open the plane’s doors, putting the passengers at risk, Savage told the judge.

After the landing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, a screaming and shouting Snow tried to bypass passport control and repeatedly kicked the marshal who took her into custody, documents say.

Snow was involuntarily committed to Carolinas Medical Center after her Friday arrest, then transferred to Rowan Medical Center, where she was released, Savage said. She is to be held in the Mecklenburg County jail until her next court appearance.

According to the affidavit, crew members in Charlotte asked American Airlines to remove Snow before takeoff. And it remains unclear why Snow was allowed to work the return flight given her behavior on the first leg.

American spokeswoman Katie Cody said Tuesday that employee-privacy policies and the ongoing criminal investigation limit what the company can say about the case, but she acknowledged that it raises “good questions.”

“We are investigating it internally to understand what happened, and we will be responding accordingly,” she said. “We want to figure this out so we can address these situations in the future.”

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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