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Nation/World

June 26, 2014

Ukrainian man in 2012 flight ruckus gets probation

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Ukrainian truck driver accused of screaming in Russian that a plane wing had caught fire before tussling with passengers aboard a 2012 flight is set to serve two years’ probation and pay thousands of dollars in damages under a federal judge’s order.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby on Wednesday sentenced Anatoliy Baranovich, 47, of Portland, Oregon, to pay $57,000 to Delta Air Lines Inc. for damaging a plane door when he tried to yank it open on the flight from Boston to Salt Lake City.

He told authorities he had been drinking heavily for 50 days before causing the melee.

Baranovich, wearing a white-collared shirt unbuttoned at the neck and close-cropped hair, agreed to undergo court-administered drug testing and to avoid going to bars during the two-year period. He spoke with help from a translator.

“I want to apologize to everyone,” he said. “I’m a good man, so I didn’t do anything mean to any person. I just regret so much that it happened.”

Defense attorney Ron Yengich said Baranovich is a good father and husband, and the behavior isn’t typical of his client. Before Wednesday, Yengich said, Baranovich served eight months in the Davis County jail while the trial was pending.

“The big issue here has been the alcohol,” Yengich said. “He no longer drinks.”

Baranovich in March pleaded guilty to interfering with a flight crew. Conviction on that charge could have meant up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The judge dropped three other charges against him. They are damaging an aircraft, trying to bribe federal agents and resisting arrest.

In 2012, Baranovich traveled to Ukraine to build a house, but he began drinking when he could not begin construction, he told authorities. “I never sobered up,” Baranovich told an FBI investigator after the incident.

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