DENVER — A Denver man was found guilty this week after a three-day jury trial of interference with flight crew members and attendants.
Joseph Wayne Lynch II was found guilty of interference with a flight crew after an incident that happened on Aug. 4, 2015 on US Airways Flight 580 from Philadelphia to Denver.
According to court documents and evidence submitted during trial, Lynch was upgraded to first class after missing his previous connection. Because of his loud and odd behavior upon boarding, the lead flight attendant limited his alcohol intake.
After the flight took off, Lynch swapped seats to sit next to a young woman with whom he wanted to strike up a conversation. He became increasingly upset when the flight attendant denied him further alcoholic beverages, which made him disruptive and threatening.
At numerous times during the flight, Lynch also had inappropriate physical contact with the flight attendant, including placing his hand on the small of her back repeatedly, and grabbing her and kissing her neck.
When instructed that his conduct was inappropriate, Lynch then began a slew of profanities directed at flight attendants and passengers.
Lynch was loud enough that the plane’s captain heard his rants in the cockpit — over radio traffic and despite noise-canceling headphones.
The flight attendants got an ice hammer, a pot of hot coffee and plastic handcuffs, and alerted two able-bodied passengers to assist in the event Lynch got further out of hand.
When confronted, Lynch responded by repeatedly stating, “Let’s go!” He then promised to bring the airline down.
He also falsely claimed to be a former Green Beret/Special Forces member, and he showed off his purported bullet wounds, along with a photo of his marijuana farm, according to the Colorado Department of Justice.
Lynch’s continued escalation of threats and inappropriate behavior eventually led to the captain to temporarily turn over flying duties to the first officer, locking down the cockpit, and notifying the airline of the situation and requesting law enforcement to be present at the gate upon arrival.
When Denver police officers arrived, and later an FBI special agent, Lynch redirected his threats and anger toward them.
“As everyone who flies on airliners knows, 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,” U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement.
“This sort of boorish, abusive and threatening behavior will not be tolerated by the flight crew (and fellow passengers) and constitutes a federal crime that we will prosecute forcefully to protect the flying public. May this case serve as a warning to others.”
The jury deliberated for approximately three hours before reaching their guilty verdict.
Lynch faces not more than 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Lynch is free on bond and scheduled to appear for sentencing on May 16.