2011-10-21 / Community

Rockaway Ex-Flight Attendant Completes Program

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced on Wednesday that former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, who was charged in August 2010 with recklessly endangering the lives of JFK Airport ground crews and others by opening a plane’s emergency door and deploying the escape chute during a non-emergency, has successfully completed a twelvemonth court-supervised alternative sentencing program and was sentenced to one year of probation on his guilty plea to attempted second-degree criminal mischief last year.

As part of his sentence, Slater was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to JetBlue – the estimated cost of replacing or repairing the escape chute and other costs resulting from his actions.

Brown identified the defendant as Steven Slater, 39, whose last known address was 124 Beach 128 Street in Rockaway Park.

In October 2010, Slater appeared in Queens Mental Health Court before Supreme Court Justice Marcia P. Hirsch and entered a conditional plea of guilty to attempted second-degree criminal mischief, a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison, and attempted forth-degree criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. He was conditionally sentenced to one to three years of incarceration. However, as part of his plea agreement, Slater enrolled in the District Attorney’s mental health alternative sentencing program and agreed to reimburse JetBlue the sum of $10,000, which represented the estimated cost of replacing or repairing the escape chute, among other expenses.

The Queens Mental Health Court (QMHC) is a special part of the Queens County Supreme Court. It provides a court-supervised program for those arrested in Queens who have mental health-related issues, who need treatment and other services and who choose to participate in the court program instead of having their cases proceed through the regular court process. The program lasts for at least one year after an individual enters a guilty plea in QMHC.

Each QMHC participant is assigned a case manager who prepares an individualized treatment plan and monitors that individual’s participation and progress for the court. The treatment plan may include such things as medication, regular appointments with a psychiatrist and participation in an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program.

Having successfully completed the treatment plan prepared for him, Slater was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to the felony charge and be sentenced today by Justice Hirsch to one year of probation on the misdemeanor charge. The restitution of $10,000 to Jetblue is a condition of his probation. Slate will make monthly payments of $831.25 directly to the Department of Probation. He made an initial payment of $500 today.

Brown said that, according to the charges originally filed, Slater was working as a flight attendant on Jet- Blue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to New York on August 9, 2010. When the plane landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and passengers started deplaning and ground crews were working below the plane, Slater created a dangerous condition by intentionally activating the aircraft’s emergency escape slide and then using it to exit the plane. The emergency escape slide, which deploys at a force of 3,000 pounds per square inch, could have caused serious physical injury or death if it had struck any of the people working under the aircraft. Slater than walked on the tarmac until he found an unlocked door and exited to the street area.

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