SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah man has temporarily lost his flying privileges and passport after authorities say he pelted a flight attendant with peanuts and pretzels on a Southwest Airlines plane from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.
Federal court records show Pogos Paul Sefilian of Sandy was in court Thursday on a charge of interference with a flight crew.
If convicted, he faces 20 years in federal prison.
Sefilian has not yet entered a plea. An arraignment is set for July 22.
Court papers filed in U.S. District Court say Sefilian was on a flight Monday evening when he took out an electronic cigarette and began to smoke it while the plane was in flight. He argued with a flight attendant when told it was against airline policy to use the device. Electronic cigarettes simulate the act of tobacco smoking by producing an inhaled mist.
Sefilian attempted to smoke the device a second time and was again asked to stop.
"This enraged Sefilian," the complaint says. "Later in the flight, he began to throw peanuts and pretzels at the flight attendant."
Sefilian also refused to follow the flight crew's orders when the plane began to land, standing in the aisles and opening overhead luggage compartments, court records allege. Flight attendants told an FBI agent they had to make six separate announcements to get Sefilian to stay in his seat.
Sefilian was arrested at the Salt Lake City airport.
A federal judge released him from jail Thursday but ordered him to wear a GPS tracking device.
Parker Douglas, Sefilian's federal public defender, said Friday the conditions of release are fair. He said Sefilian expected the close monitoring because he has a previous felony DUI conviction.
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