Shutesbury woman pleads guilty in incident that forced emergency flight landing

  • Creatas  Creatas

Staff Writer
Published: 8/13/2019 10:25:55 PM

SPRINGFIELD — A Shutesbury woman has pleaded guilty to a federal charge related to her actions on a 2017 plane flight from Boston to Las Vegas that prompted an emergency landing in Denver.

Lily Wheeler, 29, was arrested earlier this year after a grand jury handed up indictments on two counts of “assaulting and intimidating the flight attendant or flight crew member.”

Wheeler was on board the flight Aug. 4, 2017, when she caused a commotion that forced the pilot to land the plane.

Last week in U.S. District Court in Springfield before Judge Mark Mastroianni, Wheeler agreed to a plea deal with Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Morgan.

Under the arrangement, Wheeler is pleading guilty to one of the two counts on which she was indicted.

Each charge on which Wheeler was indicted carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, though the plea deal comes with a recommendation of incarceration at the lower end of the sentencing range and one year of supervised release.

She is also responsible for paying $10,000 restitution to the airline.

Although Wheeler caused issues for the flight crew on board, “her interference did not endanger the safety of an aircraft,” according to the plea deal.

Wheeler is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7 in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

Wheeler was represented by attorney Luke Ryan of Sasson Turnbull Ryan & Hoose of Northampton.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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