NEW YORK -- Oct. 19, 2010 -- Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant and self-professed "bag Nazi" who made a dramatic emergency slide exit from a JetBlue plane in August, pleaded guilty today to criminal mischief charges as part of a deal to avoid jail time.
Appearing in Queens Mental Health Court, Slater pleaded guilty to attempted criminal mischief in the second degree and attempted criminal mischief in the fourth degree; one a felony, one a misdemeanor. Under the plea deal, Slater will undergo at least a year of counseling and substance abuse treatment.
A potential sentence of one to three years in jail was abated because Slater agreed to treatment. Slater -- who was dressed in a blue shirt and light grey suit -- will also pay $10,000 in restitution.
Slater spoke briefly outside the Queens courthouse shortly after the sentencing, calling the public attention surrounding this case "surprising."
"At the end of the day I am a grown adult and I must take responsibility for my actions," Slater said.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown suggested that Slater was depressed and drunk at the time of the incident.
Slater became a minor folk hero with an overworked, stressed out public after his brash method of exiting his job. As his flight from Pittsburgh arrived in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, Slater told authorities he lost patience with a passenger and was hit on the head by either a bag or the overhead bin. Slater then stormed up to the front of the plane, grabbed the plane's intercom, made an expletive-laced speech, grabbed a beer from the galley, opened the door and slid down the emergency evacuation chute.
Some passengers on the flight have disputed his story, but no new details emerged in court today.
At his appearance today, it appeared that the gash on his head from the carry-on bag has since healed.
Steven Slater Pleads Guilty, Will Undergo Treatment
For weeks after the incident, America talked about his beer-grabbing slide exit, and a Facebook fan page gained more than 200,000 followers.
Slater's mother, a retired flight attendant herself, said her son restrained himself and added that if she was in his place she would have been even more aggressive.
"I can understand why he snapped, and I would have snapped too. In fact, I probably would have snapped more than he did," Slater said after her son's outburst. "I also don't think that people who are in the service industry should be abused by anybody, whether it be a passenger or anybody."
But not everyone took his actions in such a lighthearted manner.
Authorities said the emergency slide he deployed could have killed or severely injured somebody on the ground. The emergency slide deploys out of the aircraft with a force of 3,000 pounds per square inch. The typical car tire pressure is around 30 to 35 psi.
JetBlue also had to take the plane out of service to replace the slide. Slater's $10,000 payment restitution will partially pay for that replacement, which will cost the airline about $25,000.
Slater has since formally resigned from the airline.