SALT LAKE CITY -- A Ukrainian man pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he damaged an aircraft while disrupting a Delta Air Lines flight from Boston to Salt Lake City and then tried to bribe the FBI agents who arrested him.
Anatoliy N. Baranovich, hung over from a 50-day drinking binge, told authorities he believed the wing of the airplane was on fire when he disrupted the flight, according to a criminal complaint.
Authorities say Baranovich woke up during the plane's descent, started yelling in Russian and tried to open the rear door, damaging the plane's fuselage before being restrained by other passengers. They claim he then offered federal agents $6,534 to let him go.
Baranovich, 46, pleaded not guilty in U.S District Court to charges of damaging and disabling an aircraft, interfering with a flight crew, bribing a public official, and assaulting and resisting officers.
Baranovich told authorities he had been visiting family in the Ukraine for several weeks while attempting to begin construction on a house. Unsuccessful in his efforts, Baranovich instead got drunk for the entire 50-day trip and "never sobered up," according to the criminal complaint.
It also said he believed the wing of the airplane was on fire when he got up from his seat, ran to the back of the aircraft and tried to open the emergency exit as a flight attendant ordered him to stop.
Baranovich, who was returning home to Portland, Ore., has been detained in a Utah jail since the Oct. 15 incident.
Authorities also are investigating why Baranovich had 19 passports in his possession at the time of his arrest. They said they found the passports -- 16 for women, ranging in age from their 20s to their early 30s, and three for men -- when they searched his luggage.
Three of the passports appeared to be issued to people who live or have been in the U.S. Some documents were heavily used and had no more room for visa stamps, while others showed little travel.