Penn. man pleads guilty to starting fire on flight, forcing it to land at DIA

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Several dozen mothballed Delta Air Lines jets are parked at Kansas City International Airport Wednesday, April 1, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Several dozen mothballed Delta Air Lines jets are parked at Kansas City International Airport Wednesday, April 1, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

DENVER — A Pennsylvania man has pled guilty to starting a fire in the lavatory on a Delta flight, forcing it to divert to Denver International Airport, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

Robert Allen pled guilty Wednesday to attempted destruction of an aircraft, according to prosecutors. He is now free on bond.

Prosecutors said on April 1, Allen boarded a Delta Air Lines flight that was scheduled to travel from Los Angeles to Detroit. Shortly after takeoff, other passengers saw Allen acting strangely, moving continuously around the cabin, and switching seats, according to prosecutors. Crew members monitored him, told the pilot about a possible issue, and tried to get Allen settled, according to prosecutors.

Allen eventually went into the lavatory and refused to come out, according to prosecutors. The lavatory smoke alarm went off, and crewmembers forced open the door, removed Allen, and extinguished burning paper that he had set on fire, according to prosecutors.

When the pilot heard the smoke alarm, he diverted the flight to DIA, according to prosecutors. Officers arrested Allen when the flight landed at DIA.

Allen could face up to 20 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000, plus payment of restitution to Delta. He will be sentenced December 16.

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