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August 20, 2009

Drunken Mardi Gras Federal Air Marshal Impersonator Sobers To 'Sad Hour' - Judge Calls Interference for Flight Crew

Department of Justice Press Release
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For Immediate Release
August 20, 2009
United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
Contact: (504) 680-3000

Federal Jury Convicts New York Man for Interference with Flight Crew and Impersonation of a Federal Air Marshal

NEW ORLEANS, LA—PAUL HENRY BORITZER, a/k/a John I. Michaels, age 46, a resident of New York, New York, was found guilty by a federal jury after a two-day trial of interfering with a flight crew and impersonating a Federal Air Marshal while he was traveling from New York to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.

The federal jury found that on February 20, 2009, BORITZER, while onboard JetBlue flight 119, created a disturbance by refusing to obey the lawful instructions of the flight attendants and the Captain. BORITZER intimidated and threatened a flight attendant after he was denied alcoholic beverages during the flight and falsely claimed he was a Federal Air Marshal to the flight crew.

Speaking to this important conviction, U. S. Attorney Jim Letten stated:

“The conviction of an intoxicated and abusive air traveler for federal violations including interfering with a flight crew and impersonating a U. S. Air Marshal will serve as a clear and unambiguous signal that we in federal enforcement have absolutely no tolerance for disruptive conduct which threatens to diminish the efficiency of flight crews and thereby threatens the safety of passengers. Any such conduct will be met by swift and decisive enforcement action by the FBI, U. S. Air Marshals and the U. S. Department of Justice.”

Special Agent in Charge David W. Welker stated:

“The FBI’s authority to investigate crimes aboard an aircraft, to include interference with a flight crew and impersonating a federal law enforcement officer, are taken very seriously. The danger these crimes pose places the passengers in harm’s way, and will therefore continue to be aggressively investigated and prosecuted”

According to Federal Air Marshal’s Service, Houston Field Office Special Agent in Charge Joanne Oxford:

"Federal Air Marshals are law enforcement professionals dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of the nation's traveling public. The Federal Air Marshal Service fully supports the U.S. Attorney's efforts to prosecute individuals who impersonate federal law enforcement officers."

BORITZER faces a possible maximum sentence of twenty-nine (29) years imprisonment and a $1 million fine. U. S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier scheduled defendant’s sentencing for December 9, 2009.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys W. Scott Laragy and Gregory Kennedy.

Federal Bureau of Investigation - The New Orleans Division: Department of Justice Press Release