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Investigators were trying to figure out how an African national was able to make it from John F. Kennedy International Airport to the West Coast without a boarding pass last week.
Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi had a court appearance in California federal court Friday detention hearing on his charge of being a stowaway on the June 24 Virgin America flight from JFK to Los Angeles.
Noibi, originally from Nigeria, twice tried to pass off invalid boarding passes and had a bag filled with phony travel documents that were not in his name, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Central California.
While he was on the overnight flight to LAX Airport, a flight attendant asked Noibi, 24, for his boarding pass after she discovered he was in a seat that was supposed to be vacant, the criminal complaint said. After he replied with the request, the flight attendant noticed that the date on the pass was a day old, but Noibi allegedly said it was wrong because he missed the L.A. flight that was scheduled for the day before, according to the complaint.
The attendant brought the pass and Noibi’s college identification card to the captain, who alerted the authorities at the arriving airport and had Noibi under surveillance during the rest of the trip, the complaint said.
A FBI agent found the pass had another person’s name on it and, when he contacted that passenger, he said he printed the boarding pass for a June 23 flight, put it in his pocket, took a subway to JFK and discovered the pass was missing when he got to the airport, according to the complaint.
On June 29, Noibi tried to board a Delta flight bound for Atlanta and used a boarding pass that had a June 28 date, giving the same excuse that he missed an earlier flight, the complaint said.
The FBI interviewed him at the LAX terminal and he allegedly claimed that he went to Los Angeles to recruit people for his software business, according to the complaint. He also claimed that he was able to go through passenger screening by obtaining a seat pass and displaying his college identification and a police report that said his passport was stolen, the complaint said.
Just before they took him into custody, the FBI agents allegedly found two boarding passes in his pocket that did not contain his name and 10 more phony passes in his travel bag, according to the complaint.
The Transportation Safety Administration and FBI were actively investigating the case, according to an FBI spokeswoman. The Port Authority declined to comment and said the incident was a TSA matter.
Virgin America said it was cooperating with the law enforcement officials.
“The airline self-reported this incident to the authorities as soon as the issue was identified onboard last week and began its cooperation with the FBI Friday evening, and is continuing to comply with all law enforcement agencies in the ongoing investigation of the matter,” a Virgin America spokeswoman said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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