(CNN) – A New York woman was recently sentenced to four months in prison for interfering with flight crew members, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Kelly Pichardo pleaded guilty, which is a Class C felony. Pichardo also received 36 months of supervised release and was ordered to pay $9,123 in restitution to American Airlines, the department said in a statement.
The sentence was imposed on August 29, according to court documents.
“Inappropriate and intimidating behavior,” the statement says, Pichardo and his co-accused on a February 2021 American Airlines flight from Dallas to Los Angeles prompted the flight to be diverted to Phoenix so they could both be removed from the plane. They traveled in first class.
Pichardo’s lawyer, Ana Laura Botello, declined to comment on the verdict.
The defendant, Leeza S. Rodriguez, will be sentenced in November “due to her guilty plea,” the department said.
“There is a fine line between reckless behavior on an airplane and criminal activity, and the defendant clearly crossed it,” U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino said in a news release. “First class passengers are not immune from prosecution.”
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents more than 20,000 American Airlines flight attendants, said the violent behavior on the flight should be diverted to Phoenix.
“APFA will continue to work with other flight attendant and customer service agent unions, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress to ensure that these violators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law with appropriate fines and criminal penalties,” Julie said. Hedrick, the union’s national president, in a statement to CNN.
The maximum fine for a Class C felony violation in this case is $250,000, with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
More than 1,100 investigations and 350 enforcement actions were initiated.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Phoenix Police Department, conducted the investigation into the incident involving Picchardo.