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Updated 08/21/12 – 10:31 p.m.
DENVER (CBS) – A Chicago man was facing federal charges on Tuesday, after allegedly groping a pregnant woman, spitting on police, and threatening a flight attendant on board a JetBlue flight from New York to Los Angeles.
Marcus Covington, 32, was charged with interfering with a flight crew, after the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in Denver.
CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports federal prosecutors allege Covington was intoxicated and groped a pregnant woman as he waited to use the plane’s lavatory.
He’s also accused of refusing a flight attendant’s request to stay seated.
An FBI agent on the plane was forced to intervene, and Covington sat between the agent and another passenger until the plane landed and Covington was arrested.
Passenger Yoram Kohanzadeh filmed Covington as he was led away in handcuffs.
After making the emergency landing, the pilot informed passengers what had happened.
“We just can’t tolerate that, because we don’t know how much that’s going to escalate,” the pilot said. “Somebody like that might swing an arm, or something, and cause some problems.”
Kohanzadeh said he couldn’t see the incident involving Covington, who was seated behind him, but he could sense there was trouble on the flight. He pulled out his camera when Covington was taken off the plane.
“When he was walking off, he dropped a few F-bombs here and there, saying ‘Why the f*** are you guys bothering me? Why are you guys doing this to me?’” he said. “A few passengers, myself included, noticed him wobbling a little bit when he was walking around.”
One passenger saw Covington “take at least eight pills of an unidentified substance during the final portion of the flight,” according to the criminal complaint against him.
Although officials said there was never any danger to the aircraft itself, Covington’s antics allegedly continued after he was escorted off the plane. He allegedly “kicked at” and “spit on” Denver police officers who were trying to get him to sit in a chair at the airport.
The charges against Covington carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Kohanzadeh praised JetBlue’s efforts to inform passengers about why the flight was being diverted and what had happened on the plane.