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FBI: 'Enraged' flier pelts crew with peanuts

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
FBI agents met the Southwest Airlines flight when it landed in Salt Lake City.
FBI agents met the Southwest Airlines flight when it landed in Salt Lake City.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Incident happened on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City
  • Flight attendants asked a passenger to put away his electronic cigarette
  • The man allegedly became enraged and threw peanuts and pretzels at the crew
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(CNN) -- An airline passenger is accused of assaulting and intimidating flight attendants after he allegedly became furious when he was asked to put away his electronic cigarette.

The incident happened Monday on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, according to a complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court in Utah.

During the boarding process, Pogos Paul Sefilian brought out an electronic cigarette and began to smoke it on board, court papers say.

Electronic cigarettes look like the real thing, but they're actually battery-operated devices that turn nicotine into a vapor that is inhaled by the user, according to the FDA.

When a flight attendant told Sefilian that the electronic cigarette was not allowed on board, he argued with her but put the device away, according to the complaint.

But not for long.

Sefilian took the e-cigarette out after takeoff and began to smoke it again, prompting the flight attendant to again ask him to put it away, court papers say.

"This enraged Sefilian and he began to loudly argue with the flight attendant," according to the complaint.

"Later in the flight, he began to throw peanuts and pretzels at the flight attendant and towards the flight deck door."

As the plane approached Salt Lake City, Sefilian stood and began opening the overhead compartments, court papers say.

Flight attendants asked him several times to close the bins and sit down, but he refused and "postured his chest out" at the crew, according to the complaint.

FBI agents met the flight when it landed and arrested Sefilian. He is accused of interference with a flight crew.

Sefilian was released from jail on Thursday, said Parker Douglas, his attorney. Sefilian's passport has been taken away, which is customary when somebody is awaiting resolution of a federal case, Douglas said.

Sefilian, who lives in Sandy, Utah, has previous convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, Douglas said.

The attorney expects the case to be resolved quickly.