California man pleads guilty to interfering with flight crew

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty to interfering with a flight attendant, causing a California-based flight to be diverted to Oklahoma City, federal prosecutors announced on Thursday.

Ariel James Pennington, 35, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he’s formally sentenced later this year, U.S. Attorney Robert Troester said in a statement.

Pennington was initially charged with a second count of assaulting a federal air marshal on the same flight, but prosecutors agreed to dismiss that count as part of a plea agreement.

A message left with Pennington’s attorney, Kenny Goza, seeking comment on the plea wasn’t immediately returned.

Pennington was arrested Dec. 9 after the Delta Airlines flight from Virginia to California was diverted to Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City police said at the time that Pennington was disorderly and intoxicated.

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