The former flight attendant who became a national sensation when he escaped from a JetBlue plane following a rant with a passenger is mostly off the hook for his costly stunt after he completed a court-ordered anger management program, the Queens district attorney said.
A judge allowed Steven Slater to withdraw his guilty plea on criminal mischief felony charges and placed him on one-year probation during a court hearing Oct. 19, Queens DA Richard Brown said.
Slater, 39, of Belle Harbor, made an agreement with the DA’s office last year when he pleaded guilty in the Aug. 9, 2010, incident under the condition that he would avoid time behind bars if he took part in a one-year program for suspects who suffer from mental health issues. The program is designed to help participants work to rectify their personal problems.
“I am satisfied, under the circumstances, that the outcome of this case benefits society by fairly balancing the seriousness of the charges against the defendant’s need for rehabilitation,” the DA said in a statement.
In addition to probation, Slater was ordered to pay his former airline $10,000 for the damages he caused when he opened an emergency door to get out of the aircraft.
His attorney, Daniel Horowitz, said his client was grateful for the DA’s generosity.
“The program was helpful and beneficial to him and he’s getting ready for the rest of his life,” he said.
Horowitz added that Slater was mulling over writing a memoir and would like to act as a consultant who talks about the aviation industry.
Slater had been a flight attendant for many years, but his career got caught in a bit of turbulence during the JetBlue flight from Pittsburgh to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Sometime during the flight he got into an argument with a female passenger and was struck in the head by luggage that was stored in an overhead compartment, according to investigators.
The incident angered Slater, who got on the plane’s PA system after the aircraft landed, went on a vulgar tirade, stole a beer and then opened the emergency door and slid out the inflatable exit.
He made his way back to his home but was apprehended by the authorities later that afternoon. Slater’s story became legendary on social media websites including Facebook, where he had 185,110 fans.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2011 Community News Group
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