BY JENNIFER CHAUSSEE, Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A United Airlines customer service representative and his wife were sentenced to jail time for stealing unclaimed luggage from a flight that was diverted after the fatal crash of an Asiana Airlines plane last year, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The luggage belonged to a couple whose flight had been scheduled to arrive at San Francisco International Airport on the day of the Asiana Airlines crash last July. Their flight was diverted to another airport, but their suitcases were sent on to San Francisco.
Sean Sharif Crudup and his wife pleaded no contest to two felony counts of grand theft and possession of stolen property in March. Crudup was sentenced on Tuesday to nine months in jail, while his wife received six months.
Both are currently out on bail and will serve their terms on a staggered basis, San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, adding that the sentences were more severe than usual given the circumstances of the crime.
“They’d probably be getting a sentence about half, but this was aggravated because they took advantage of a situation and because they were airline employees,” he said.
Prosecutors said video surveillance showed Crudup taking the bags and handing them to his wife, Raychas Elizabeth Thomas, who later unpacked the luggage and returned much of the clothing to a Nordstrom department store in exchange for cash, taking advantage of a liberal return policy.
The couple was ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution, $5,600 of which will go to Nordstrom. The remaining $400 will go to the owners of the stolen luggage.
Three Chinese teenagers died and dozens of passengers were injured when the Asiana Boeing 777 hit a seawall in front of the runway, lost its tail and caught fire after skidding to a halt.