State Digest


March 30, 2007

Ariz. man charged in airplane incident

A 34-year-old Arizona man was charged by federal prosecutors yesterday with assaulting two flight attendants on an America West airplane en route from Phoenix to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Bryan Leon Spann was charged in a criminal information with two counts of assault on the attendants, Timothy Brennan and Amelia Ann Hass, who were working March 10 on Flight 81.

Prosecutors said Spann became "loud, belligerent and combative" during the flight and struck a crew member in the right eye with a closed fist, and then hit the other.

Spann had been charged with assault by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, but those charges were dropped when federal authorities took over the case.

If convicted, Spann faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine for each offense. He was released pending trial with a condition that he not fly on an airplane while his case is pending.


Ship engineer pleads guilty for contaminating waterways

A chief engineer of a car-carrier ship pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday in connection with an investigation into discharging oil-contaminated waste into Maryland waterways, the U.S. attorney's office announced.

Stephen Karas pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements. He is the second engineer to be convicted as part of an investigation started by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2003 when an inspector lifted a deck plate on a ship and found a pipe to reroute waste around a treatment system.

Deniz Sharpe pleaded guilty on March 7 to violating an act to prevent pollution from ships. A third engineer remains under indictment.

Both were employed by Pacific Gulf Marine Inc., based in New Orleans. The company cooperated with federal authorities and in June agreed to pay a $1 million fine for discharging hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated waste.

The company admitted that ship records created the impression that waste had been properly discharged overboard through required equipment. Instead, prosecutors said it was discharged through a "magic pipe" that bypassed the system.

Karas is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 11; Sharpe on Aug. 28.

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