Former JetBlue Attendant Cops Plea For August Incident
Steven Slater, who as a JetBlue flight attendant on August 9 went into a meltdown at JFK International Airport, this week avoided jail time by pleading guilty to two counts of criminal mischief, one count a felony.
As part of the plea deal with the Queens District Attorney’s office, the 38-year-old Slater must attend at least a year of mental health counseling, along with substance and alcohol abuse treatment at a facility to be chosen by the District Attorney’s office.
Slater was also ordered to pay JetBlue $10,000 to help replace an escape chute he deployed during his episode.
On August 9 as JetBlue Flight 1052 arrived at JFK International Airport from Pittsburgh, Slater traded words with a female passenger over a piece of carry-on luggage, grabbed a microphone and shouted expletives at passengers, then activated the plane’s emergency slide, took two beers and slid onto the tarmac.
Slater left the airport and headed for his Belle Harbor home, where he was later arrested and charged with criminal mischief, trespassing and reckless endangerment. He could have faced seven years in prison for his actions.
“At the end of the day, I am a grownup and I have to take responsibility for my actions,” Slater told reporters outside the Kew Gardens Courthouse. “I am very grateful to the court for making these arrangements.
During a prior court appearance, Slater underwent a court-supervised mental evaluation that showed he suffers from “unspecified mental health problems”, as well as substance and alcohol abuse problems.
JetBlue no longer employs Slater. A spokesperson for the airline refused to comment on the matter.
“At his last court appearance, the defendant requested to be evaluated for participation in a court-supervised alternative sentencing program to address possible mental health and co-occurring substance or alcohol abuse issues, among others, Brown said. “I believe that the defendant finally has recognized the seriousness of his actions and is willing to accept responsibility. Under the circumstances, today’s disposition, which includes reimbursement to JetBlue in the sum of $10,000, fairly balances the seriousness of the charges against the need for the defendant’s rehabilitation.”
A week before Slater’s court date, the Belle Harbor home he and partner Ken Rochelle share was burglarized by the partner’s brother, Jonathan Rochelle, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Jonathan Rochelle, 39, of 258 Beach 130th St., also in Belle Harbor, was arrested on October 19 by detectives assigned to the 100th Police Precinct. He is presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree burglary and petit larceny. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
District Attorney Richard Brown said that, according to the charges, Rochelle gained entry to the apartment that Slater shares with Ken Rochelle on Thursday, October 14, at some time between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., and stole a laptop, printer and microwave.
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