SAN DIEGO–A Malaysian man pleaded guilty in federal court this week to interfering with an airplane flight crew.
According to admissions in his plea agreement, 20-year-old Wei Sing Goh boarded Japan Airlines flight JL66 in Narita, Japan and landed at the San Diego International Airport on August 13 at 11:56 a.m. Approximately one hour into the flight, Goh began consuming alcohol and became agitated and unruly.
During the flight Goh left his seat several times, disturbing passengers and flight crew members. He also refused to comply with flight crew members’ instructions. Goh shouted racial slurs and curse words, made inappropriate sexualized comments to a female flight crew member, and inappropriately touched a female flight crew member. At one point, Goh threw his drink at the man sitting behind him and struck the man in the head with a crumpled cup. After Goh was given several verbal warnings and a final written warning pursuant to Japan Airlines’ policy, he struck a flight crew member while other flight crew members, with the assistance of three passengers, attempted to subdue Goh.
Goh’s behavior interfered with the flight crew’s performance of their duties in several ways, including reducing the ability of the flight crew to perform safety checks and disrupting the normal meal service of the flight. The pilot and co-pilots had to communicate with the Japan Airlines Operation Center to discuss whether to divert the aircraft, which impeded the normal landing procedures for the plane.
“Crimes aboard aircraft put everyone in danger,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “We will do everything we can to prevent flight crew and travelers from becoming victims of physical violence, sexual assault, theft and other crimes that occur all too frequently at 35,000 feet. If you interfere with a flight crew, or commit a crime against a passenger, you are putting everyone at risk, and you are going to face consequences.”
“Safety on an airplane is important to all who fly,” said FBI SAC Scott Brunner. “A drunk, abusive passenger acting out against other passengers and the flight crew is not merely an inconvenience, but a serious threat to the safety of everyone on the flight. This sort of abusive and threatening behavior will not be tolerated and constitutes a federal crime that the FBI will investigate fully to protect the flying public. May this case serve as a warning to others.”
The incident was investigated by the San Diego FBI Port of Entry Team and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with support from San Diego Harbor Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Other agencies supporting the FBI Port of Entry Team include the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration, and San Diego Port Authority.
Goh is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia on March 2, 2020. If convicted, Goh faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.