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NYC woman sentenced to 4 months in prison after in-flight fight caused plane to divert

A New York woman is serving four months behind bars and 36 months of supervised release for her part in a fight aboard a February 2021 American Airlines flight.


Kelly Pichardo, 32, of Bronx, New York, was sentenced by a United States District Judge last week, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.


She previously pleaded guilty to interference with flight crew members. She also has to pay restitution to American Airlines totaling $9,123.


Pichardo's co-defendant, Leeza S. Rodriguez, will be sentenced after her guilty plea on Nov. 7 this year.


The U.S. Department of Justice said Pichardo and Rodriguez were "unruly and intimidating" while traveling first class on an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Los Angeles.


The two women got into a fight with another passenger who asked them to stop using a racial slur, Phoenix police told the Arizona Republic, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. One of the women spit at the male passenger who had asked her to stop using that language, a Phoenix police spokesperson said at the time.


The man started recording the fight on his phone and then Rodriguez allegedly hit his hand to stop him from doing so. Their behavior caused the pilot to reroute the flight to Phoenix, Arizona, so the co-defendants could be removed from the plane.

The flight eventually continued to LAX.


“There is a line between boorish behavior on an airplane and criminal activity, and the defendant clearly crossed it,” said United States Attorney Gary Restaino in the most recent release about the case. “First class passengers are not immune from prosecution: defendant’s verbal and physical intimidation disrupted the travel of passengers and crew alike.”


This article originally appeared on USA Today

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