BISMARCK, N.D. — A flight attendant accused of making a phony bomb threat that forced a flight he was working to make an emergency landing in North Dakota is accused in a similar incident in Virginia.
Justin Cox-Sever, who was a SkyWest Airlines flight attendant from Tempe, Arizona, was charged last week in a Virginia federal court with making a bogus bomb threat that forced a SkyWest flight to Chicago to return to Charlottesville last July.
Cox-Sever doesn't have a lawyer for the Virginia case. His lawyer for the North Dakota case, Neil Fulton, declined to discuss the case in detail via email Thursday.
Cox-Sever, 22, was previously charged in a North Dakota federal court with disrupting a Sept. 9 SkyWest flight from Minneapolis to Dickinson that led to the temporary shutdown of the Dickinson airport after the plane landed. Prosecutors say he stuffed a bag with towels and reported it as a suspicious package making beeping noises, leading the pilot to declare an in-flight emergency.
FBI Special Agent Daniel Genck wrote in an affidavit that Cox-Sever admitted planting the bag on the North Dakota flight and fabricating the bomb threat in the Virginia case. Genck said Cox-Sever reported that someone had written a threat on a wall of the plane's bathroom, but that he later admitted that he wrote the threat himself after he recanted a claim of being extorted by someone threatening harm to his family.
Cox-Sever pleaded not guilty in the North Dakota case and is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges related to interfering with the operation of an airplane. He faces three similar counts in the Virginia case, which hasn't been scheduled for trial.
"For right now, the North Dakota charges are being taken care of first and then Virginia will go," said Brian McGinn, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in the western district of Virginia.
Cox-Sever is no longer employed by SkyWest, though the airline won't say whether he was fired or left willingly. He is not allowed to fly without court approval while his cases proceed.