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Korean Air passenger sent to prison over beer fight

HAGATNA, Guam >> A Korean Air passenger who started a fight with a flight attendant who refused to serve him more beer has been sentenced to more than two years in prison.

A judge sentenced Kwon Woo Sung on Monday to three years in prison. But the South Korean man was given credit for the past seven months he’s spent under house arrest and in federal detainment, leaving 28 months left on his sentence.

The judge gave attorneys another day to consider home confinement as an alternative for Kwon at the request of his attorney. The hearing will continue Wednesday.

Kwon had pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and attendants for his behavior on an April flight from Seoul to Guam.

He is accused of smoking a cigarette in the plane restroom and then fighting with the flight attendant who refused to serve him another beer. Other passengers struggled with Kwon to subdue him and tie him up inside the plane, court documents said.

Kwon’s attorneys had argued that their client suffers from anxiety, depression and anger issues.

Kwon was initially sentenced to three years on Nov. 8, but his attorneys, Peter Perez and Edward Han, asked the judge for more time to discuss whether Kwon would accept the sentence or withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial.

During that time, the defense presented more testimony from Kwon, his 70-year-old mother Yang Young Hwa and Kwon’s psychiatrist on Monday. They also gave the judge apology letters from Kwon to passengers, flight crew members and the Korean Air CEO.

But Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood handed down the same sentence from earlier this month, despite pleas for leniency from Kwon and Hwa, who cried and fell to their knees at one point during the hearing. Tydingco-Gatewood said it was one of the more emotional sentencing hearings she’s experienced in her 22 years as a judge, but cited the seriousness of the crime in giving Kwon the sentence.

Kwon must also pay a $10,500 fine, including $1,000 for smoking in the plane’s restroom. The money will be taken out of Kwon’s $100,000 cash bail.

He still has the option of withdrawing his guilty plea if he does not accept the court’s sentence.

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