About That Guy Who Caused A JetBlue Diversion… Oh My

About That Guy Who Caused A JetBlue Diversion… Oh My

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Several days ago I wrote about a JetBlue flight that diverted to Minneapolis due to a passenger who was snorting cocaine and acting inappropriately. This was on a New York to San Francisco flight, and the passenger was seated in JetBlue’s Mint business class.

This incident came to light because a reader was on the flight, and recorded a video of the captain standing in the cabin after the plane diverted to Minneapolis, providing a mighty detailed account of events that caused the diversion.

There are now a lot more details about what happened, as a criminal complaint has been filed against 42 year old Mark Scerbo. He is being charged with one count of possession of cocaine, which carries a maximum of three years in prison and a minimum fine of $5,000. He had 24.5 grams of cocaine on him at the time of the diversion (which he claimed was creatine).

I imagine he’ll also face a significant fine and/or possibly jail time with the FAA’s new zero-tolerance policy for poor inflight behavior, but that’s not part of this complaint.

This document contains even more details of what allegedly happened on that flight, and my gosh it’s wild. Here are the highlights of what’s being claimed:

  • During the meal service, the passenger threw his food on the floor, grabbed a metal butter knife, and began walking up and down the aisle while holding the knife in a closed fist with the blade up
  • When the flight attendant removed the passenger’s meal tray, she observed a bag containing a white powdery substance
  • The passenger sang out loud, did yoga-like movements in people’s faces, and acted aggressively
  • The passenger told his seatmate that he was a prophet named Genghis Khan, accused her of being in the CIA, and said he loved her; he talked to her about nano bots, angels, and a “peace army”
  • When the passenger’s seatmate asked him if he was on drugs, he replied “of course not, look me in the third eye”
  • The passenger went to the bathroom at least six times, sometimes bringing a butter knife and a large feather; at one point he was even seen snorting the substance at his seat, and getting it all over his mustache, face, and pants
  • The seatmate was reseated because she didn’t feel safe, but then the passenger walked by her and patted her on the head
  • When the passenger tried to get the attention of someone else in the cabin and was ignored, he repeatedly called him a “f*ggot,” and then threw playing cards at him while saying “suicide kings”

Also, one important point of clarification. When being questioned by authorities in Minneapolis, the man clarified that he claimed to be Toshi Nakamoto, the founder of a crypto currency, and not Genghis Khan. I’m inclined to believe him on that front, because when I was reading the complaint in regards to what he was talking about to his seatmate, I thought to myself “there’s no way he wasn’t talking about crypto.”

This isn’t the guy’s first drug-related run in with the law:

  • He had a prior federal conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and was sentenced to 57 months in jail
  • He was sentenced to an additional four months in jail for a supervised release violation
  • He was convicted of introducing drugs into prison, and was sentenced to an additional 18 months in jail

Bottom line

What a story this is. When the flight diverted, the captain provided a play-by-play of what happened, in a way I’ve never seen done before. While his description ended up being pretty accurate (even though he was on the other side of the cockpit door), I’d say reality was even wilder.

I feel sorry for all the other passengers on the flight, as this must have been a legitimately scary situation. I hope this guy gets the help he needs, and isn’t allowed to terrorize passengers on another flight anytime soon.

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  1. Ben

    In the words of Rick James, "Cocaine is a hell of a drug".

  2. Ra

    Hahahahahahahahaha “there’s no way this guy wasn’t talking about crypto”

  3. Ben Holz

    "are you on drugs?"
    "of course not, look me in the third eye"

    had me here

  4. DaninMCI

    Reminds me of the airplane scene in the movie Bridesmaids where Kristen Wiig goes crazy on the plane. That would be a rough flight. Too bad the TSA or gate agents didn't flag this guy before he boarded the flight. You should add that he potentially risks being placed on the "no-fly" for not wearing a mask I'd guess :)

  5. Steven M

    But he's white, so nothing major will happen.

    Same with Gran'pa Ranty who set his Texas hotel room on fire after staying 16 nights. Austin: "This week a 77 year old guest on the property, who had stayed for 16 days, set fire to his room before checkout. He then went to the airport, and caught his flight to Houston." (Gary Leff blog)

  6. Joe Chivas

    Don't worry Hunter, your name has been changed to protect the guilty.

  7. John G

    Cocaine use and sexually harassing others sounds awfully like Brian Kelly himself.

  8. Kamaaina

    Joe Chivas once again proving he's incapable of an original thought.

    Curious if those who commented on this the first story and said the flight should have continued on course instead of being diverted still stand by that stance...

  9. AJO

    Satoshi Nakamoto would be the correct (nick)name for the bitcoin founder(s).

  10. Escobar

    24.5 grams of cocaine is 7 eight balls. In San Francisco, that’s at least $2500 worth, more if it’s the good stuff. It’s enough for a dozen people to have a very wild long weekend.

    ...or so I’ve heard.

  11. Se, D.

    @Kamaaina no I do not. A diversion sounds reasonable here. I think the previous “anti-masker” take made it seem much more harmless.

  12. Tim Dunn

    Kids, this is why "recreational" drug use never ends well.

  13. Bandmeeting

    Why was he allowed to act out for so long? It sounds as if he’d provided plenty of cause for being subdued long before he was (although I’m not sure that he was in fact subdued).

  14. steven kapellas

    I expect Mr. Khan to be given a reality TV show by Bravo in 3…2…1….

  15. rich

    Too bad people like this can't be "flushed" out of the airplane mid-air.

  16. Creditian

    His attorney probably will defend his behaviors caused by cocaine so he will be charged for possession of drugs but not admitting other charges after cocaine consumption.

    BTW, he has other criminal records, probably due to New York justice reforms so he can be out of prison right now.

  17. Arie

    @Tim I can think of many instances when recreational drug use ended very well. Not everyone is an a*****e. Though this guy clearly is one.

  18. scarface smith

    24.5 grams is a LOT of bolivian marching powder. I bet he started the flight with an ounce, which means he snorted almost 4 grams. His behavior makes a bit more sense given that.

  19. KEVIN

    Just ban him for life to get on any airplane unless it’s to Betty Ford. If he wants to take up party drug in his apartment, that’s one thing. But do it in public or act out in public is another. Physically endangering public is def a big no no.

  20. Tim Dunn

    Arie,
    not the " "surrounding recreational.
    Also, given how addictive some drugs are, including what some that this guy purportedly had in his system, I'm not sure how recreational they are but YMMV.

  21. Jorge Paez

    I thought flights weren't going to have metal knives? And how did he get that much cocaine past security!!??

  22. William

    And all you bloggers led with him not wearing a mask - obviously that was the most important aspect of the story

  23. Sandy Needham

    Dear Jet Blue

    You really should try to get a better class of customer in Mint Class, especially as you expand to London. These sordid little people who play with illegal substances in the lavatory while others want to pee should not be your target customers.
    Lets raise standards!

  24. Steven E

    Aah America - land of the free home of the brave -:)

  25. Ray

    How did JFK TSA miss this?

    Security really is just theatre to them, huh?

  26. Suzi

    Bravo to the flight crew and all passengers who remained calm and prevented what could have been a terrible disaster. I cannot imagine being on that flight and I am a seasoned psych nurse of 38 years!

  27. Josh

    What the hell is with the detailed recount of the man's alleged activities by what seems to be the pilot? Really? What ever happened to, "Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to advise that due to a disturbance on board, it is necessary for us to divert. Our ground staff will be waiting to assist you with rearranging your travel plans. On behalf of jetBlue, I apologise for this inconvenience"? Since when is it appropriate to...

    What the hell is with the detailed recount of the man's alleged activities by what seems to be the pilot? Really? What ever happened to, "Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to advise that due to a disturbance on board, it is necessary for us to divert. Our ground staff will be waiting to assist you with rearranging your travel plans. On behalf of jetBlue, I apologise for this inconvenience"? Since when is it appropriate to give a blow-by-blow (!) account of what the passenger apparently did?

  28. Sandy K.

    Josh,
    People have the right to know the truth and what is going on inside the aircraft while they are inside the aircraft and no where to go so a general canned announcement doesn't do it for me and I'm sure a lot of others feel the same. I fly on JetBlue every month and this is the only airline I feel comfortable taking because they put my mind at ease. So kudos and...

    Josh,
    People have the right to know the truth and what is going on inside the aircraft while they are inside the aircraft and no where to go so a general canned announcement doesn't do it for me and I'm sure a lot of others feel the same. I fly on JetBlue every month and this is the only airline I feel comfortable taking because they put my mind at ease. So kudos and big thank you to all the JetBlue pilots and flight attendants for keeping me and the rest of the passengers safe and informed.

  29. shza

    Echoing someone above, 24.5 grams is a HUGE amount -- not remotely a "personal use" amount. Roughly eight "8 balls." Completely insane (or, more likely insanely high) to walk into an airport / traverse a TSA checkpoint carrying this, let alone flaunt it on a plane.

  30. Kent

    Over forty years of flying around the world and it’s always the Americans who are a nuisance in the air. We wonder why the rest of the world looks at us with disdain.

Featured Comments Load all 31 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Kent

Over forty years of flying around the world and it’s always the Americans who are a nuisance in the air. We wonder why the rest of the world looks at us with disdain.

shza

Echoing someone above, 24.5 grams is a HUGE amount -- not remotely a "personal use" amount. Roughly eight "8 balls." Completely insane (or, more likely insanely high) to walk into an airport / traverse a TSA checkpoint carrying this, let alone flaunt it on a plane.

Sandy K.

Josh, People have the right to know the truth and what is going on inside the aircraft while they are inside the aircraft and no where to go so a general canned announcement doesn't do it for me and I'm sure a lot of others feel the same. I fly on JetBlue every month and this is the only airline I feel comfortable taking because they put my mind at ease. So kudos and big thank you to all the JetBlue pilots and flight attendants for keeping me and the rest of the passengers safe and informed.

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