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Man Accused of Defecating on Airliner Pleads Guilty To Making a Threat

February 12, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ An investment banker accused of defecating on a plane’s food-service cart and threatening a flight attendant told a judge Monday that he was angry because he had been refused another glass of wine.

Gerard B. Finneran pleaded guilty Monday to a federal misdemeanor charge for making the threat. As part of a plea agreement, he also promised to reimburse United Airlines $49,029 for cleanup costs and for other passengers’ tickets.

``I was angry,″ Finneran, 52, told Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold as he admitted making the threat aboard a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to New York on Oct. 20.

Finneran, the managing director at the Trust Company of the West, faces up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine when he is sentenced May 14.

Prosecutors said in court papers that Finneran started pouring drinks on himself during the flight and had threatened one flight attendant and shoved another into a seat.

Finneran told Gold that he had no intention of carrying out his threat but badly wanted another glass of wine after the airline had stopped serving alcohol.

``I became annoyed and said words that implied a physical threat,″ he said.

Asked if he told the attendant he would ``bust his ass,″ Finneran said that he assumed he had said something to that effect.

Later, Finneran allegedly lowered his pants and defecated on the food cart, using linen napkins as toilet paper.

The defecation was not mentioned in court. Afterward, lawyer Charles Stillman would say only that Finneran had suffered an intestinal illness that led to diarrhea. Finneran refused to comment outside court.

Stillman said the cleanup cost to the airline was about $1,000 and the rest of the restitution was to repay the airline for refunding the tickets of first-class and business-class passengers, whose flight was most affected.

Stillman described his client as a ``marvelously decent human being″ who had flown more than 5 million miles before the October flight without any incidents.

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