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Man to Plead Guilty to Assault Aboard Airliner

January 09, 1998

A passenger who allegedly became so upset during a Continental Airlines flight that he poured hot coffee on flight attendants and opened an escape door as the jet taxied has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge, authorities said Thursday.

Thomas Kasper, 36, of Santa Barbara faces a maximum sentence of life in prison--but probably will receive less than 10 years--when he appears today before U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, said U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek.

Kasper agreed to plead guilty to the single charge against him: interference with the performance of the duties of a flight crew member by assault or intimidation. The charge carries a special allegation of using a dangerous weapon--the pot of coffee.

Also charged in the case was Kasper's companion, Susan Callihan, 28, of Goleta, who will be tried Tuesday.

The couple allegedly became belligerent during the July 14 flight from Houston to Los Angeles, with Kasper accused of pouring coffee on flight attendants, leaving one with second-degree burns. Callihan was accused of kicking and beating on the cockpit door.

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