US convicts Russian man who flew to LA without passporton January 27, 2024 at 3:47 pm

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The 46-year-old boarded a flight last November from Denmark to the US without a ticket, passport or visa.

Photo of plane tail with SAS logoImage source, Getty Images

A Russian man who boarded a flight from Denmark to Los Angeles last November without a ticket, passport or visa has been found guilty in a US federal court of being a stowaway on an aircraft.

Sergey Ochigava, 46, was convicted by a jury in a California court on Friday.

Officials arrested Ochigava at the LA airport after they could not find any record of him being booked on a flight or of him applying for a visa.

He has been in custody since November, and faces up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors said Ochigava got through security at Copenhagen Airport in Denmark without a boarding pass by tailgating a passenger through a turnstile gate.

The next day, he passed through a boarding gate undetected and boarded a Scandinavian Airlines flight to Los Angeles.

According to Ochigava’s indictment documents, members of the cabin crew noticed him on the plane because he was moving between multiple unassigned seats.

He also “asked for two meals during each meal service, and at one point attempted to eat the chocolate that belonged to members of the cabin crew”.

One flight attendant said he “was trying to talk to other passengers on the flight, but most of the passengers ignored him”.

Ochigava was met by US border agents when the flight landed in LA on 4 November. The agents were unable to find any official record of him on the Scandinavian Airlines flight or any other flight.

He was also unable to provide a visa, a passport, or any other travel document needed to enter the US. After searching his bag, officials found both Russian and Israeli ID cards that belonged to him.

Officials accused him of giving “false and misleading information about his travel to the United States”, including initially telling border agents that he had forgotten his passport on the plane.

Ochigava told border agents that he “might have had a plane ticket … but was not sure”, according to his indictment.

He also said he had no memory of how he got on the flight, claiming he had not slept for three days.

Ochigava will be formally sentenced on 5 February.

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