Dennis Murphy had already piloted two flights between Orlando and JFK International Airport in New York when he was selected for random alcohol testing on April 21, 2015, according to a complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York last week.
According to the breath alcohol technician, Murphy's "face was red and he was chewing gum rapidly" on the way to the testing office, the complaint said. After allegedly blowing an 0.111 and a 0.091, he asserted the results "must have been caused by the gum."
Murphy, who had been hired by JetBlue only three months prior, also questioned why he was being tested so soon after his start date, according to the complaint.
His co-pilot later told agents he'd observed Murphy "drinking an unknown beverage from a cup before and during" both flights, which carried a combined 270 passengers. The co-pilot said he'd also noticed Murphy taking a bathroom break, according to the complaint.
The maximum penalty, if convicted, is 15 years.
JetBlue immediately removed him from flight status, and Murphy later submitted his resignation.
"JetBlue has a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy," the airline said in a statement. "Following last year’s incident, the crewmember was removed from duty and is no longer employed at JetBlue."
The Air Line Pilots Association International declined to comment on the case, "because, having voluntarily resigned from his airline, the pilot is not a member of ALPA and is not represented by ALPA in this matter."
"However, it is important to note that instances of substance abuse are extremely rare among the approximately 100,000 professional airline pilots in the United States who safely fly passengers and cargo on more than 27,000 flights every day. The airline piloting profession in North America is one of the most highly scrutinized careers, and airline pilots’ professionalism has contributed to making flying the safest form of transport for passengers and air cargo shippers," the association said in a statement today.