Archives : 2003 : November
BY KEVIN LYONS
Kansascity.com – The Kansas City Star
Knight Ridder Newspapers
FORT WORTH, Texas – (KRT) – The former New York shipping clerk who got in a cargo crate and shipped himself from Newark, N.J., to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to visit his parents in DeSoto, Texas, was sentenced Wednesday to one year’s probation, which includes 120 days of house arrest and a $1,500 fine.
Stowaway Pleads Guilty
Charles McKinley, 25, did not speak to reporters after he was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Bleil. McKinley, who pleaded guilty Nov. 6 to stowing away on an aircraft, could have received up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
Bleil said that even though McKinley’s breach of security came as the airlines continue to face heightened scrutiny, he gave him probation because the “offense was to avoid paying airfare for a plane flight home. “I don’t like what you did. It was wrong and very stupid,” Bleil said. “But I’m glad you are standing here this morning, rather than have met a fate much worse by the stupidity of your actions.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Schattman and McKinley’s defense lawyer, Bill Glaspy [of Imhoff & Associates, P.C. Criminal Defense Attorneys], said they were satisfied with Bleil’s sentence. McKinley will live at his parents’ house in DeSoto during his probation, Glaspy said.
Difficult for Convicted Stowaway to Obtain Employment
As part of the terms of his probation, McKinley must work. He had a job at a food company after his November plea. But that company would have wanted McKinley to drive in and out of D/FW Airport, Glaspy said, and after the company did a security check, McKinley lost that job. “He has had a hard time finding a job and part of it was that nobody knew if he was going to be there” after sentencing, Glaspy said. After he embarked on his 1,500-mile trip that began Sept. 5 and ended a day later, McKinley served three weeks in jail at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas on outstanding warrants for a probation violation and a traffic ticket. He continued to serve jail time after pleading guilty to violating probation on a theft by check conviction.
Details of the Stowaway Exposes Security Loopholes
McKinley said he made the trip because he didn’t have any money and he was homesick. Originally, McKinley claimed that a United Parcel Service pilot friend helped him bypass airport security and that he was able to free himself from his 42-by-36-by-15-inch crate during the flight and wander around the cargo area.
In plea documents, however, McKinley said he acted alone and was unable to leave his crate. The shipping documents said the crate contained a computer, a monitor and clothes, according to a criminal complaint filed by an FBI agent.
A one-way ticket from New York, booked online in advance, would have cost about $270. McKinley’s family has already paid about $6,800 in restitution to UPS to compensate the shipping company for its troubles, Glaspy said.
His journey exposed security loopholes in cargo shipments and sparked a debate about tightening cargo screening.
FORT WORTH, Texas A former shipping clerk pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to shipping himself from New York to Dallas in a wooden cargo crate.
Charles D. McKinley, 25, pleaded guilty to stowing away on a cargo jet, a misdemeanor. Possible punishment ranges from probation to a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced Feb. 4. McKinley declined to comment after the 20-minute hearing. His attorney Bill Glaspy [of the Imhoff Firm] said he advised McKinley to plead guilty because “he told what he did to every newspaper and television station in the country, I think.”
The plea was not part of a plea bargain, said U.S. Attorney Fred Schattman.
McKinley’s trial had been set for Monday. He had previously agreed to have U.S. Magistrate Charles Bleil hear the case rather than a jury or a federal district judge.
McKinley, who worked at a New York warehouse, journeyed overnight about 1,500 miles by truck, plane and delivery van before popping out of the box Sept. 6 at the home of his startled parents in DeSoto, a suburb of Dallas.
The delivery company’s shaken employee left the house and called police.
Airport ‘Security’ Exposed
McKinley has said he made the 15-hour trip, eluding security at five airports, because he was homesick and thought he could save money by flying cargo.
McKinley said he took a cell phone, which didn’t work, but no food or water. He told some reporters he occasionally got out of the 42-by-36-by-15-inch crate.
He said an accomplice closed the box and shipped him. But in his signed statement to the FBI, McKinley claimed no one else was involved. The incident renewed debate over the air cargo system’s vulnerability to terrorists. Unlike the tight federal security for airline passengers, air cargo receives little federal scrutiny and is the responsibility of the shipper.
2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Now Playing: Imhoff & Associates - Criminal Defense Attorneys
Talk to Us Now
Have a Question?
We can help to answer it