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Man charged in federal court after in-flight tantrum over headphones, alcohol

Published January 25, 2011 5:40 pm

Federal court • His behavior on Sunday prompted pilot to divert plane to SLC.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 45-year-old man arrested by FBI agents in Salt Lake City after throwing a tantrum on a JetBlue flight and threatening to "take down the plane" made his first appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

Kevin Theodore Simon appeared before U.S. Magistrate Paul Warner on one count of felony interference with a flight crew. He is scheduled for a detention hearing in federal court on Feb 3.

According to a complaint, Simon became enraged on a Sunday JetBlue flight from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when a flight attendant informed him he could purchase headphones only with a credit card, not cash.

He became angrier when a flight attendant declined to serve him an alcoholic beverage because he appeared already intoxicated, the complaint states.

Simon "loudly complained he was not drunk" and was asked to change seats after other passengers complained about his behavior, according to the complaint.

Later, a flight attendant was removing service items from an overhead container and a "small item" fell and hit Simon's shoulder. Simon demanded the number for JetBlue's customer service and told a flight attendant he intended to file a complaint after being hit with the undisclosed item, the complaint states.

The flight attendant provided Simon with the number and also issued him a "disturbance report warning card" to try to diffuse the situation, informing him that if he didn't calm down the jet would land and he would be removed.

The card apparently angered Simon further, and he threatened the flight crew, telling them he would "have their jobs," according to the complaint. He then yelled, "I will take this plane down" and threw a note. A flight attendant asked Simon whether the note was a bomb threat, and he replied, "Let's see you take this plane down; if you don't you shouldn't have your job," the complaint states.

The note did not contain a bomb threat, but reiterated Simon's dissatisfaction with JetBlue's service.

The plane's pilot decided to divert the plane to Salt Lake City for the other passengers' safety. It landed at 12:41 a.m. and FBI agents later arrested Simon.

Property records indicate addresses for Simon in Los Angeles County and in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.

mrogers@sltrib.com