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Charges: Passenger had cocaine on flight that was diverted to MSP

Charges say he was acting erratically and had a baggie of cocaine in his seat.

The man who caused a JetBlue flight to be diverted to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sunday is now facing a federal drug charge. 

Mark Anthony Scerbo, 42, of Mechanicville, New York, is charged in federal court with one count of possession of cocaine in connection to the May 16 incident that happened on JetBlue flight 915 from New York to San Francisco, causing the flight to be diverted, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday.

Related [May 17]: JetBlue flight diverted to MSP after passenger snorts white substance, refuses to wear mask

A passenger on the flight tweeted video of a JetBlue employee sharing details of what caused the diversion, including the passenger refusing to put on his mask, making stabbing motions toward passengers and snorting a "white substance," adding flight attendants found a baggie of said substance in his seat.

It turns out the white substance he was snorting was likely cocaine, according to the charges against him. The baggie he had tested positive for the drug and weighed 24.5 grams. 

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses told investigators the aforementioned details, and that Scerbo was acting erratically and causing a commotion, walking up and down the aisle with a butter knife in his fist.

In a statement to Bring Me The News on Monday, JetBlue said:

"On Sunday, JetBlue flight 915 with scheduled service from New York’s JFK Airport to San Francisco, was forced to divert to Minneapolis after a customer on board began acting erratically and aggressively toward crewmembers and other customers. The flight was met by law enforcement, the customer was removed and the flight continued on to San Francisco. Safety is JetBlue’s first priority, and we appreciate our crewmembers’ response and our customers’ patience during this incident."

When the plane landed at MSP around 4:40 p.m. Sunday, Scerbo was removed from the aircraft and detained, MSP spokesperson Jeff Lea told BMTN on Monday. 

If convicted, Scerbo faces a maximum of three years in prison and a minimum fine of $5,000.

However, it's possible he could face a larger fine from the FAA, which has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions. The policy stems from an increase in violent and unruly passengers in the past year, including those who refused to comply with face mask policies.

Recently, the FAA said it was issuing a $9,000 fine to a passenger on a Delta flight who forced the plane to return to MSP after takeoff back in December. The FAA says she got out of her seat during takeoff and didn't comply with flight crew instructions.

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