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Passenger Accused of Defecating on Airliner Pleads Guilty To Making A Threat

February 12, 1996 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ An investment banker accused of defecating on a airliner’s food-service cart during a flight pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor charge of threatening a flight attendant and agreed to pay $50,000 in restitution. His lawyer said his only problem was diarrhea.

``I was angry,″ Gerard B. Finneran, 52, told Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold as he admitted making the threat aboard a United Airlines flight from Buenos Aires to New York on Oct. 20.

Finneran, a managing director at the Trust Company of the West who lives in upscale Greenwich, Conn., faces up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine when he is sentenced May 14.


As part of his sentence, Finneran agreed to pay the airline $49,029 for damage to the plane and to reimburse passengers for the flight.

Charles Stillman, Finneran’s lawyer, said the cleanup cost to the airline was about $1,000 and the rest was to reimburse passengers.

Finneran told Gold that he had no intention of carrying out his threat but badly wanted another glass of wine after the airline had stopped serving alcohol.

``I became annoyed and said words that implied a physical threat,″ he said.

Asked if he told the attendant he would ``bust his ass,″ Finneran said that he assumed he had said something to that effect.

Authorities had alleged in court papers that Finneran started pouring drinks on himself during the flight and had threatened one flight attendant and shoved another into a seat.

Later, Finneran allegedly lowered his pants and defecated on the food cart, using linen napkins as toilet paper.

Stillman described his client as a ``marvelously decent human being″ who had flown more than 5 million miles before the October flight without any incidents.

``He’s not a man with a problem,″ Stillman said.

The defecation was not mentioned in court. Afterward, Stillman would say only that Finneran had suffered an intestinal illness that led to diarrhea.

The magistrate judge asked Finneran if he had undergone any psychological or alcohol treatment and he said he had not.

The judge also asked Finneran if he had had any alcohol within 24 hours of pleading guilty.

When Finneran said he had a glass of wine with dinner Sunday night, Gold asked, ``Are you sober as you stand here before me?″

``I hope so, your honor,″ Finneran answered.