DENVER (LAWFUEL) – Christina Elizabeth Szele, age 35, of Woodside, New York, was arrested by Deputy U.S. Marshals in Brooklyn, New York, at the federal probation office late yesterday for pre-trial release violations. Prior to her re-arrest, Szele was free on a $10,000 (10 percent cash) secured bond. Szele will make her initial appearance on the violations in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will then request that she be transported to the District of Colorado by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Christina Szele returned to New York on pre-trial release after her indictment in Colorado. She was supervised by the U.S. Probation Department. She subsequently tested positive twice for cocaine. She also was arrested for misdemeanor assault in Queens. Prior to Szele’s re-arrest, the prosecution and defense had agreed to transfer the case to the Eastern District of New York for a potential guilty plea and sentencing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado has decided that the Szele case will now be resolved in Colorado, not New York. Szele, through her attorney, has filed a notice of disposition, which notifies the court of her intent to plead guilty. The court has not yet set a change of plea hearing date.
The defendant was charged by Criminal Complaint on June 18, 2008. She was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on July 7, 2008. She was re-arrested for pre-trial release violations on September 15, 2008.
According to the facts outlined in a FBI Affidavit in support of a Criminal Complaint, and the subsequent indictment, on June 17, 2008, Szele was a passenger aboard JetBlue Airways flight 643 in route to San Francisco, California from New York, New York. Szele allegedly started smoking a cigarette at her seat. She was confronted by a flight attendant, and in response, the defendant allegedly yelled obscenities, including racial epithets. Flight attendants attempted to restrain Szele with flex cuffs, but she broke through the cuffs and punched an attendant in the face. She also assaulted a second JetBlue employee who was asked to sit next to her during the flight.
Szele was successfully restrained after a second attempt. Because of the disturbance, the Captain of JetBlue flight 643 decided to divert the flight to Denver International Airport.
If convicted of interference with a flight crew, the defendant faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine. If convicted of assault, the defendant faces not more than 6 months in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine for each of the two counts.
This case was investigated by the Denver Police Department and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Mackey.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.