HOUSTON - A 47-year-old Alabama man is in federal custody after he allegedly became belligerent and punched a federal air marshal on a Houston-bound flight.
Robert Wade Prince was arrested Saturday by federal officers at Bush Intercontinental Airport, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. He faces charges of assault, interfering with flight crew members and attendant and assaulting an officer.
Prince was aboard a Continental Airlines flight heading to Houston from Amsterdam Saturday when he allegedly started becoming boisterous and yelling loudly, according to the statement. While crew members aboard the flight tried to calm him down, he allegedly grabbed the arm of a female attendant.
Then a woman sitting next to Prince accused him of inappropriately touching her and complained about his yelling, according to the statement.
That's when a flight attendant asked a federal air marshal aboard the flight to switch seats with the woman, according to the statement.
But as the air marshal tried to take his new seat, Prince allegedly blocked it, according to the statement.
After the air marshal identified himself as a federal officer, Prince allegedly punched him twice in the torso, according to the statement.
Prince was restrained and forced to sit in the crew's rest area, according to the statement.
During the rest of the flight, Prince allegedly kept verbally abusing the air marshal, according to the statement.
He was immediately arrested after the plane safely landed at Intercontinental Airport.
Prince is being held without bond until his detention hearing, which has been scheduled for Thursday.
A conviction on a charge of interfering with flight crew members and attendants carries a punishment range of up to 20 years, according to the statement.
A charge of assaulting an officer carries a maximum punishment of 8 years imprisonment upon conviction, according to the statement.
Both offenses are also punishable by fines of up to $250,000 each.
Assault carries a maximum punishment of six months incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
CSTPublished: Tuesday, 16 Feb 2010, 5:15 PM CSTM