Accused Tempe flight attendant negotiating plea agreement

Posted at 8:17 AM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 15:32:42-05

A flight attendant accused of making fake bomb threats on two Skywest flights in the U.S. in 2015 is negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors and likely won't stand trial.

Justin Cox-Sever, of Tempe, Arizona, is accused of making the threats on a July 2015 flight from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Chicago, and on a September 2015 flight from Minneapolis to Dickinson, North Dakota.

In the first incident, the plane had to turn around mid-flight and the second resulted in the temporary shutdown of the Dickinson airport. Emergencies were declared in both cases. No injuries were reported.

Cox-Sever had been expected to stand trial beginning Tuesday in North Dakota, but U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland approved a delay until Feb. 28. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme said in court documents that the two sides anticipate filing a plea agreement before then. It would resolve both cases.

"Obviously an agreement that brings finality is beneficial to our client and to the United States," said Neil Fulton, head of the federal public defender's office for the Dakotas.

Cox-Sever's trial has been delayed eight times, due in large part to the fact that he's charged in federal court in North Dakota and Virginia. He could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted at trial on charges related to interfering with an aircraft.

Cox-Sever is no longer employed by SkyWest. The airline won't say whether he quit or was fired.