LOS ANGELES — Two Huntington Beach newlyweds whose drunken antics forced an airline to make an unscheduled stop in Houston to eject them were sentenced Thursday to two years of probation and fined a total of $1,000.
Cindy and Mitchell Martina were married on the spur of the moment May 3, according to court records, and admitted that they had consumed a considerable amount of champagne at their wedding reception in Tampa, Fla.
After boarding a Continental Airlines flight for Los Angeles, they were verbally abusive, threatened a passenger with a fork and exchanged passionate kisses in plain view of a 9-year-old child. The kiss was vehemently denied by Cindy Martina.
48 Hours Spent Behind Bars
The flight crew eventually landed the plane in Houston and turned the Martinas over to federal agents, who took them and their best man to a local jail. The best man was released after six hours, but the Martinas spent the next 48 hours of their honeymoon behind bars.
Asst. U.S. Atty. Stephen Wolfe said the Martinas were prosecuted under a federal law that makes it a crime to interfere with the crew of an airliner.
After their sentencing by District Judge John Davies, the Martinas admitted they were intoxicated when they boarded the Continental flight. But Cindy Martina, 30, blames airline officials for letting them board the plane in their condition.
"Continental's first mistake was letting us on the plane," said the postal carrier. She said the trouble started because flight attendants refused to serve them more alcohol. "If they had just served us one beer, we probably would have passed out."
She vehemently denied the government's allegation that her husband kissed her naked bosom in view of a 9-year-old girl seated across the aisle. "It didn't happen," she said.
But, she admitted, "I was loud and obnoxious and obscene verbally."
Mitchell Martina, 23, supports his wife's version of the events.
Although Martina told the judge that he does not have a drinking problem, Davies ordered him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while he is on probation.
A Continental Airlines spokesman said the company is not seeking payment from the Martinas for the trouble they caused.
"We consider it a law enforcement matter," Rick Scott said.
People occasionally have to be removed from flights for being intoxicated, he said, but unscheduled landings are not too common.
"It is a rare occurrence, but it is not precedent-setting," Scott said. The Martinas still face possible civil penalties of $2,000 imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Raul Ayala, Cindy Martina's attorney. He said the FAA is still reviewing the case.
In addition to national publicity, Cindy Martina said, the incident has cost the couple about $1,200 in lost wages, telephone calls and chiropractic bills for treatment of back problems exacerbated by her stay in the Houston jail cell.