Sunday, February 25, 2018
Public safety

Judge releases Tampa man accused of wine bottle brawl on Delta flight

SEATTLE - The Tampa man accused of going berserk on a Seattle-to-Beijing flight, beating passengers and crew members with a wine bottle before being subdued, has been ordered released from federal custody by a Seattle magistrate judge.

Joseph D. Hudek IV, 23, last month asked the court to reconsider its order detaining him following his arrest on July 6 after allegedly trying to open an exit door aboard Delta Air Lines Flight 129 while the Boeing 767 was over the Pacific Ocean.

Hudek says in new court documents that he'd eaten cannabis just before the flight and insists he poses no danger if he's not high.

Magistrate Judge James Donohue on Tuesday released Hudek to his mother so he can return home to Tampa, despite the government's objections. However, Hudek cannot fly and must travel by train or car. He also is barred from using cannabis.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: FBI says Delta flight attendants smashed disruptive Tampa man with a wine bottle

Hudek, who faces 20 years to life for assault and up to 10 years for other criminal counts, is scheduled to be tried on Feb. 22

According to federal charges, Hudek - who was flying first class on a "dependent pass" - became violent when two flight attendants tried to stop him from opening a cabin door. Federal agents said he was able to move the lever halfway up.

A melee ensued in which Hudek allegedly punched one of the attendants twice in the face, hit a male passenger in the head with a wine bottle and punched him several times.

A flight attendant grabbed two wine bottles and hit Hudek with both, breaking one over his head.

According to a complaint filed by the FBI in Seattle, "Hudek did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full liter red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted, 'Do you know who I am?' or words to that effect."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tampa friends baffled by Plant High grad's arrest in plane melee

It ended up taking several passengers to restrain him before the plane returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to a federal complaint.

One of the flight attendants and a male passenger were treated for severe facial injuries, including bruising and bloody lacerations. Hudek's lawyers point out in court pleadings that no bones were broken.

Hudek has been in federal custody since then. However, his Seattle lawyer, Robert Flennaugh II, filed a motion asking the court to reconsider its detention order, saying Hudek can live with his parents in Tampa or an uncle in Texas, will have a job and will refrain from alcohol and marijuana.

His attorneys have submitted more than 300 letters of recommendation to the court, arguing that he has no history of violence or substance abuse.

Hudek has filed an affidavit with the court stating that he purchased and ingested "edible marijuana" in Seattle just before his flight.

"Later, while on the airplane and after I had consumed the marijuana, I began to feel dramatically different," Hudek said in the sworn document. The affidavit does not say how much edible marijuana he consumed,

Flennaugh also submitted an affidavit from Hudek's personal physician, Dr. Joe Whitaker of Tampa, that known side effects of orally ingested marijuana can include paranoia, confusion, hallucinations and combativeness.

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