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Man pleads guilty to disrupting Hawaiian flight but says he can’t remember behavior

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James August uses a cellphone outside the Honolulu federal courthouse Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, after pleading guilty to interfering with a flight crew.

A man whose behavior prompted a New York City-bound flight to return to Honolulu said he doesn’t remember what happened, but he doesn’t dispute accounts that he was threatening and aggressive.

James August pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Honolulu to interfering with a flight crew. “I don’t remember much, your honor,” he said when the judge asked him what happened.

But he said he doesn’t dispute a prosecutor’s summary of what happened on the Nov. 29 Hawaiian Airlines flight.

Before takeoff, August’s girlfriend was seated with her three children one row from August. A crying 11-year-old-old boy got a flight attendant’s attention and said, “Please keep him away from us,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Brady said.

August had been drinking before and during the flight, according to court documents.

During the meal service, the girlfriend’s 16-year-old son told a flight attendant August called her a derogatory word, insulted the children, and made life-threatening comments, the document said. When the flight attendant asked August to go with her to another part of the plane, he slapped her shoulder with the back of his hand, the document said.

Brady in court said August “touched” the flight attendant and that she felt threatened.

August was yelling and swearing, and crewmembers feared he would harm his girlfriend, Brady said.

The captain decided to turn the plane around. August was arrested after the flight returned to Honolulu.

August faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he’s sentenced on May 22. It’s also possible he’ll have to pay restitution. It’s not clear if Hawaiian Airlines will seek any damages from having to turn the plane around, Brady said.

James August criminal complaint by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd

39 responses to “Man pleads guilty to disrupting Hawaiian flight but says he can’t remember behavior”

  1. gsc says:

    Make an example out of him so others will think twice before they act stupid.

    • GONEGOLFIN says:

      An example would be a fine for $10,000 and some community service. 20 years sounds a bit extreme.
      What would your example of an example be?

      • MillionMonkeys says:

        How about $100,000 or more. I don’t know what the monetary cost of turning back the flight and re-flying back hundreds of passengers is, but I’m guessing that alone must be at least $10,000. Then think about the inconvenience, lost vacation time, lost business opportunities for those hundreds of passengers. $100k, maybe even more would be appropriate.

  2. Carang_da_buggahz says:

    This kind of thing happens in the air way too often, and alcohol is usually at the root of the problem. Why the airlines continue to offer alcohol in the face of an abundance of examples of midair violent incidents, leaves one incredulous at their seeming indifference to the problem. These people, who create problems for the rest of the flying public, need to be held criminally and financially liable for these incidents. Why should WE, the law-abiding customers of the airlines, have to pay for their misbehavior? Until the Feds get tough on these guys, the problem will only get worse, as is happening now.

  3. justmyview371 says:

    How about fines for Hawaiian for servicing this guy too much alcohol unless he smuggled onboard?

    • cholo says:

      obviously jumping to conclusions and making inane comments is your specialty.

    • environmental_lady says:

      You can’t smuggle alcohol aboard since liquids are extremely limited on flights. I agree that alcohol shouldn’t be served on flights but can’t control what they drink before boarding the plane. I also agree that he should be made to pay for the flight that had to turn around. This is so annoying to passengers.

    • GONEGOLFIN says:

      Justmyview, you really need to keep your views to yourself.
      So do tell, how do you know Hawaiian is responsible for the liquor issued.
      Could hit have been in the terminal?
      Could it have been prior to arriving at the airport?
      You DONT EVEN KNOW> Best to keep your advice your own advise until you do.

    • MillionMonkeys says:

      There could be other factors involved, including drugs and mental illness. Don’t jump to blaming alcohol. Don’t take my beer away!

  4. cojef says:

    People who can’t remember after having a few drinks are selfish and should not fly. Stay grounded rather than inconvenience the rest of the passengers. Flight interruption/delay is annoying and should not occur.

  5. saveparadise says:

    I think a 20 year prison sentence and a $20,000.00 fine is pretty extreme. I don’t think it ever gets imposed though. “I don’t remember” should not be allowed as a defense.

  6. google says:

    alcoholics are just like drug addicts, there very dangerous. think about all the wives and girlfriends who are victims. he should get at least 10 years in prison.

    • GONEGOLFIN says:

      You should be locked up for your grammar and misspelling.
      I just love how so many of you are self-appointed judges who’ve done nothing wrong in your entire lives.
      He who is without sin cast the 1st stone.
      Whole lot of stone throwing. Hope they don’t hit you when you mess up.

      • SueH says:

        Talk about “self appointed judges”!

      • MillionMonkeys says:

        The bad part of Internet openness is that a bunch of illiterates, who once would have been invisible to the public, are posting freely and spreading their ignorance. Folks, it’s not difficult for an 8th grader with average IQ to learn the difference between “there,” “they’re” and “their.” If a person lacks the education and/or intelligence to understand the most basic grammar rules, maybe they should find a better hobby than stinking up the ‘Net.

  7. samidunn says:

    Restitution and put him on the no fly list aught to do it.

  8. Maunawiliboy says:

    I’m glad nothing worse happened. This clown needs a wake up call.

  9. youngblood says:

    “I can`t/don`t remember” learn that one HRC?

  10. KWAY says:

    shoulda thrown the stupid idiot out the door, problem solved. wait, hit um first

  11. biggerdog says:

    Restitution and 90 days, and dont come back!

  12. SueH says:

    No problem….his jail sentence will seem to go quickly for him too, because he “won’t remember” the time served.

  13. ICEEBEAR says:

    Maybe we don’t always know the full story. True, it may likely be the alcohol making people belligerent, but for all we know it could be in some cases possibly some mania/delusions too, which could account for poor recall. Not excusing, just saying.

  14. Smiley7 says:

    It time to bar people from flying for at least a year and in this guys case 2. There was a time you were held accountable for your actions and you faced the music. Today there are nothing but excuses and girly men. Auwe!

  15. lokela says:

    Put this guy away. I’m sure his girlfriend and children do not want any part of him.

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