Updated: September 26, 2023
A 33-year-old Molokaʻi man pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and assaulting a flight attendant in an incident reported on Sept. 23, 2021.
Steven Sloan, Jr. appeared before Chief US District Judge J. Michael Seabright, and is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 4, 2022.
Sloan was aboard Hawaiian Airlines Flight #152 en route from Honolulu to Hilo at around 7:30 a.m. when the incident occurred.
According to court documents Sloan punched a male flight attendant who was collecting trash from passengers. “The flight attendant, who did not know Sloan, was shocked as the blow was unexpected,” according to a release from the US Department of Justice.
According to the Justice Department, the flight attendant saw that Sloan was upset or “agitated,”and “tried to create space,” but was subsequently struck in the head.
“Fearing for his safety, the safety of the other two flight attendants as well as the other passengers… the victim advised the other flight attendants to abandon their normal flight duties and to monitor the doors of the aircraft in the event Sloan went for the doors,” according to the Justice Department release.
The captain of the plane was advised and returned the flight to Honolulu.
Sloan faces maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for interference with the flight crew, a fine of $250,000, and a term of supervised release of three years. The maximum penalties for the assault charge are one year in prison, a fine of $100,000, and one year of supervised release.
“Crimes committed on an aircraft while in flight can imperil the safety of all those on board,” said United States Attorney Clare Connors. “This prosecution demonstrates the potential federal criminal consequences of assaulting a flight crew member.”
“The FBI takes these types of crimes seriously,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. “The flight crew has a right to feel safe aboard an aircraft while also performing their duties. We encourage everyone to be aware of their surroundings on board an airplane and understand that the FBI will investigate these crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and State of Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety – Sheriff Division and prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Darren W.K. Ching.