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Feds: Drunk honeymooner punched flight attendant

Drunk Honeymooner Punched Flight Attendant

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

HONOLULU (AP) - A drunken passenger assaulted a flight attendant while flying from Japan to Honolulu, federal prosecutors said.

Kenji Okamoto pleaded guilty Friday to interfering with the duties of a flight attendant by assaulting and intimidating him.

According to a criminal complaint, Okamoto was flying first-class from Osaka for his honeymoon last month when flight attendants noticed he was drunk before takeoff and continued drinking alcoholic beverages during the flight.

Okamoto got upset when one of the flight attendants wouldn't take his meal tray away, the court document said. The flight attendant told him his hands were full. Okamoto allegedly "threw a roundhouse type punch" at a flight attendant who intervened in an attempt to diffuse the situation.

Okamoto struck the flight attendant in his arms, which were raised to protect his head, the complaint said.

The Delta Air Lines flight crew told authorities that Okamoto later apologized while crying, remained calm for the remainder of the flight and eventually fell asleep.

After crew members restrained him in his seat, "Okamoto apologized for his actions by repeatedly saying 'I'm sorry' and bowed down on his knees and placed his head on the floor," the complaint said.

During an interview with authorities, Okamoto said he's in the construction business and was "drinking heavily because he was celebrating his honeymoon with his wife ... that he married on April 20, 2014," the complaint said. Okamoto told authorities that before boarding the plane, he had four glasses of beer and one glass of wine and he continued drinking champagne and wine while on board.

He said the incident happened "like a flash," according to the court document, and that he doesn't remember what exactly happened but that he was upset because he felt like he was being disrespected when the first flight attendant wouldn't take his tray away.

U.S. Magistrate Kevin Chang initially allowed Okamoto, 30, of Kyoto, to be released on $50,000 bond, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Hino appealed, arguing that Okamoto didn't disclose a previous conviction in Japan for assaulting a police officer. Hino's appeal provided photos of the Okamoto's near full-body tattoos, arguing that Okamoto is a flight risk and a danger.

Delta banned Okamoto from flying on the airline, according to Hino's appeal.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright granted the appeal to keep him held without bail at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center.

Because he was arrested at the airport, he never got to enjoy his honeymoon, which was to be spent at a luxury resort in east Honolulu, Hino said.

He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison when he's sentenced on Sept. 22.

His federal public defender, Salina Althof, declined to comment after the guilty plea hearing.

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anahummer June 13 2014 at 10:25 PM

20 years for punching someone and another person gets less than 10 years for killing someone...where is the justice?

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30 replies
toilbaby June 13 2014 at 10:40 PM

20 yrs. really? Come on........when did we lose our common sense? Pedophiles get less time for defiling children.

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9 replies
grant911 June 13 2014 at 10:54 PM

I blame the airline for continuing to serve alcohol to an inebriated person.

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27 replies
Marty Wilson June 13 2014 at 11:23 PM

I blame the airline for serving him when they knew he was already drunk!

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5 replies
mcfallm June 13 2014 at 11:05 PM

The flight attendants share responsibility for continuing to serve alcohol to some one they thought was already drunk. He has already given a sincere apology.

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1 reply
Kate mcfallm June 14 2014 at 4:38 PM

I agree. It's very common in Japanese men to become extremely intoxicated very quickly; they don't really have a good alcohol-coping system. My ex husband used to get beet red after a single beer. Clearly he was too drunk to realize the truth of what the attendant said-- that his hands were full-- and disrespect is a big deal in Japan.

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Lettybits June 13 2014 at 11:12 PM

What do flight attedants get for striking passengers?

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10 replies
bps163 June 13 2014 at 10:49 PM

The airport sold him the bozz they need to take most of the blame. No bozz no problem.

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7 replies
bea7 June 13 2014 at 10:35 PM

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4 replies
nanceydrew June 13 2014 at 11:13 PM

Federal court folks. Cant be doing that sort of nonsence on an airplane.

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2 replies
schlauger1 nanceydrew June 14 2014 at 12:10 AM

The airline shouldn't continue to serve an inebriated passenger. At least that's my take on it.

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6 replies
Doc nanceydrew June 14 2014 at 12:14 PM

I agree. This is definitely not the season for individuals who don't take "flying etiquette" seriously. We're at war with terrorism. I have one word for all of us who fly - BEHAVE!

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ljhanaway June 13 2014 at 10:59 PM

I'm wondering why this is even a featured story. Flight attendants often have to put up with rudeness, drunkenness, pushing and shoving and it never makes the headlines. Maybe it is due to the harsh sentence he could possibly get in September. I'm also wondering why the sentencing is over three months away.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
2 replies
sedunning ljhanaway June 14 2014 at 6:14 AM

yeah, ER nurses get the same treatment at the hands of drunken idiots and meth heads. It gets old really fas. Most states are working on making it a felony to assault health care workers that are trying to take care of you. NO ONE wants to take responsibility for their own drunken actions.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
5 replies
jelun ljhanaway June 14 2014 at 3:25 PM

So that people will read and learn?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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