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New York Woman Sentenced to Prison for Interfering with a Flight Crew

Date: September 14, 2022


Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Last week, Kelly Pichardo, 32, of Bronx, New York, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dominic W. Lanza to four months in prison followed by 36 months of supervised release. Pichardo previously pleaded guilty to Interference with Flight Crew Members. Pichardo was also ordered to pay restitution to American Airlines in the amount of $9,123.00. 

In 2021, Pichardo and her co-defendant, Leeza S. Rodriguez, engaged in unruly and intimidating behavior while traveling first class on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Los Angeles. Their actions caused such a disturbance that the pilot had to divert the flight to Phoenix, Arizona, so Pichardo and Rodriguez could be removed from the plane. Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced pursuant to her guilty plea in this case on November 7, 2022.    

“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.  “First class passengers are not immune from prosecution: defendant’s verbal and physical intimidation disrupted the travel of passengers and crew alike.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation in this case with assistance from the Phoenix Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Hakala, District of Arizona, Phoenix, handled the prosecution.


CASE NUMBER:           CR-21-00494-PHX-DWL
RELEASE NUMBER:    2022-154_Pichardo


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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/

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