2010-09-10 / Top Stories

Fired? Quit? Slater Faces Evaluation

By Howard Schwach

Steven Slater in a photo from his Facebook Page. Steven Slater in a photo from his Facebook Page. The Belle Harbor resident who gained his 15 minutes of fame by cursing out a passenger and exiting the Jet Blue aircraft on which he was serving as a flight attendant is no longer working for the company, but there is a dispute over whether he quit or was fired.

Last week, a spokesperson for the airline announced that Steven Slater was no longer a company employee, but declined to comment on the reasons for his dismissal.

Later that same day, however, Slater’s attorney issued a denial, stating that his client had resigned his position after being suspended by the airline.

“He was not fired,” attorney Daniel Horowitz said emphatically.

In either case, Slater still faces charges in Queens Criminal Court.

Slater was recently in court to answer the charges. During a fourminute hearing, he did not enter a plea because he and his attorney are in negotiations with Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Mantell on a plea arrangement.

Mantell has confirmed that there are ongoing negotiations, but insisted that Slater could have seriously injured somebody on the tarmac when he dropped the plane’s emergency chute to the runway.

“We continue to focus on the seriousness of the acts of the defendant,” the ADA said.

Slater is charged with trespassing, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. He faces a maximum of seven years in jail if convicted of all the charges against him.

On Monday, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown issued a statement saying that Slater’s case had been adjourned until October 19.

Brown said that the adjournment had come “at the defendant’s request, in order for Mr. Slater to be evaluated for participation in an alternative sentencing program to address possible mental health, stress related, alcohol abuse and other issues.”

“The evaluation – and possible participation – is, as I said, occurring at the defendant’s request and represents in my opinion, a recognition of the seriousness of that which occurred,” Brown added. “I have said from the beginning that I’ve been very much troubled by the fact that both the defendant and the media have been trivializing that which occurred. Deploying an emergency escape chute on an aircraft filled with passengers is no laughing matter. Under the circumstances, I think that we would all be well advised to take a step back and recognize the serious implications of that which occurred. Air travel in this day and age is extremely stressful for both passengers and crew alike. This case has resulted in a great deal of attention. By conducting an alternative sentencing evaluation at this time, we can, hopefully, reach a disposition of this case that balances the seriousness of the charges and the needs of the defendant.”

Slater, 38, who lives on Beach 128 Street, worked for Jet Blue for about three years, but has spent nearly 20 years in the airline industry.

Slater was made an instant “hero” by the media and by social networking sites for the way he left the plane, and reportedly his job.

“His ‘take this job and shove it’ mentality really touched lots of people who would love to quit their own jobs in that manner,” one Facebook posting said. “He represents all of us.”

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