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2 women charged with assault, interfering with crew on flight that was diverted to Phoenix

American Airlines Outlook
Posted at 4:58 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 20:51:34-04

PHOENIX — Two New York women are facing federal charges for interfering with a flight crew and assaulting passengers on a February flight that had to be diverted to Phoenix.

Kelly Pichardo, 31, and Leeza S. Rodriguez, 30, had previously been indicted by a grand jury on three counts related to the Feb. 24 incident on the American Airlines flight from Dallas to Los Angeles.

The indictment alleges that while Pichardo and Rodriguez were on the flight, they interfered with the ability of the flight crew to perform their duties by assaulting a crew member. They also each assaulted a passenger during the flight, the indictment alleges.

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Their actions forced an unscheduled landing in Phoenix.

Pichardo appeared virtually in federal court on Wednesday to face the charges.

A conviction for interfering with a flight crew member carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. A conviction for simple assault carries a maximum penalty of six months and a $5,000 fine.

Phoenix police assisted the FBI in investigating the incident.