Frontier Airlines Passenger Indicted by Federal Grand Jury
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 19, 2013|
DENVER—Mark Michael Bote, age 23, of Thornton, Colorado, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver late yesterday, the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI announced. The charges are one count of interference with flight crew members and attendants and one count of false information and threats. Bote is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer tomorrow morning, Thursday, June 20, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. for a detention hearing and possibly arraignment. The government has notified the court that it intends to seek detention of the defendant, meaning Bote would not be eligible for bond. The Magistrate Judge will make that decision. Bote could also be asked to enter a plea at tomorrow’s hearing. The defendant is represented by the Federal Public Defender’s Office. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn for proceedings once detention and arraignment have been addressed.
According to the FBI affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, on June 14, 2013, at 7:20 p.m., the FBI’s airport liaison was notified of an inflight disturbance aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 601 en route from McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee to Denver International Airport. Federal agents and task force officers responded to the airport based on the notification.
On board the flight, one passenger noticed Bote seemed nervous, was shaking, had his eyes closed, and was rocking back and forth. A second passenger also noticed that Bote looked nervous and that his eyes were glazed over. When Bote took his seat, he kept his backpack on. A flight attendant asked that he remove it. He put it under the seat in front of him but would not let completely go of it. Later in the flight, a flight attendant asked Bote if he was OK. He replied with the word “bomb” and some other words the flight attendant could not make out. The flight attendant confirmed with him twice to make sure he knew he was saying the word “bomb.”
A third passenger on board who sat next to defendant noted that Bote spent a majority of the flight sleeping. When he suddenly awoke, Bote allegedly said, “Help me, help me.” The flight attendant asked what was wrong, and Bote responded, “There’s a bomb. There’s a bomb.” He was shaking as he held the backpack. Later, Bote’s backpack was taken from him.
Toward the end of the flight, the flight attendants discussed the situation. When Bote said he had a bomb in his carry-on bag, the flight attendants consulted with the captain. On captain’s orders, the flight attendants initiated bomb procedures, which included moving passengers and bags.
One of the passengers advised the flight attendants that she was traveling with Bote and was a member of his church group. They had been in Tennessee helping build a church. She stated that the defendant was not well.
Further investigation by the FBI revealed that Bote thought someone was stalking him. He was holding on to the backpack because he thought someone put a bomb in it because it felt heavier than it had previously. Bote was arrested pending federal charges.
If convicted of interference with flight crew members and attendants, Bote faces not more than 20 years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000. If convicted of false information and threats, the defendant faces not more than five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Denver Police Department.
The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Allison, Chief of the Criminal Division of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.