Utah judge decides Ukrainian man is a flight risk, must remain in custody
Federal investigators are trying to figure out why a Ukrainian man who disrupted a flight Monday at the Salt Lake City International Airport had 19 passports in his possession.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead on Friday ordered Anatoliy Baranovich, 46, to remain in custody after a 90-minute detention hearing during which prosecutors said he was a danger to the community and a flight risk. The judge also said he was concerned about the amount of money Baranovich was carrying, his access to passports and inconsistent statements about his residency status, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Pead said Baranovich must undergo a mental health assessment, after which he'll reconsider his detention. Baranovich is being represented by the Federal Defender's Office.
Baranovich was arrested Monday after he began yelling in Russian as a Delta flight landed and then tried to open a rear emergency exit door. Baranovich apparently said he thought a wing was on fire. At the request of a flight attendant, several passengers tackled Baranovich and held him until police arrived.
During a court appearance on Wednesday, Baranovich said he was traveling from Ukraine to Portland, Ore. Through an interpreter, Baranovich said he had been drunk throughout his 50-day visit in his home country and then had several more drinks while traveling from Kiev to Amsterdam, Boston and Salt Lake City.
On Friday, FBI Special Agent Cameron Smilie testified that Baranovich continued to be combative after being taken to a holding cell, where airport police had to restrain him after he began banging on the door. After being booked into the Davis County Jail, Baranovich tried to break some glass and officers ultimately had to use a Taser on him.
Baranovich also offered bribes to airport police and an FBI agent in exchange for letting him go, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Baranovich has made conflicting statements about his residency status, telling investigators that he traveled to Ukraine to build a house for himself and also that he is a refugee from that country because of religious persecution something he later told law enforcement officers was a misrepresentation.
Officers found the passports 16 for women, ranging in age from 20s to early 30s, and three for men when they searched Baranovich's luggage. Three of the passports appeared to be issued to people who live or have been in the U.S. Some documents were heavily used and had no more room for visa stamps, while others showed little travel.
The FBI is working with Interpol to determine to whom the passports belong and where those individuals might be. "There is obviously a lot more we need to know about the passports and what is going on there," Rydalch said.
See more about comments here.