Fake Air Marshal Detained by Actual Air Marshal Aboard Plane

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By Jason Beahm on March 18, 2011 6:48 AM

Even Frank Abagnale, Jr. of "Catch Me If You Can" had the good sense not to impersonate a police officer. But apparently a passenger detained on Wednesday lacked Abagnale's sensibilities, and was caught falsely identifying himself as a federal air marshal. The passenger was on Delta flight 1922, going from Detroit to Boston.

An actual air marshal overheard the man and detained him, Transportation Security Administration officials said. The man was handcuffed and help in the jump seat at the back of the plane. Law enforcement and TSA were waiting for the plane in Boston and took the passenger into custody.

The Federal Air Marshal program is an expansion of the Sky Marshal program of the 1970s, which was designed to stop hijackings to and from Cuba. The program was expanded after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Only limited information about the Federal Air Marshal program is made public. The FAA does not reveal the number or identity of the marshals, the details of their training, nor the routes they fly.

Air Marshals have been keeping busy on Delta flights this month. On a recent Delta flight from Paris to Atlanta, Brian Louis Pomykala allegedly forcibly fondled a women and requested sex, requiring two air marshals to intervene. When they did, the man went all kung-fu and karate chopped one of them in the throat.

No word yet on what charges the air marshal impersonator will face. Brian Louis Pomykala faces charges of assault and interfering with a federal air marshal.

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