JetBlue flight attendant who discharged emergency slide sentenced to probation

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The former JetBlue flight attendant who soared to instant celebrity after deploying an emergency evacuation slide to dramatically exit an airplane in 2010 has been sentenced to a year of probation after completing a mental health treatment program.

In accordance with a plea deal reached in Queens Supreme Court in October 2010, Steven Slater withdrew his guilty plea on Wednesday to a felony charge of attempted second-degree criminal mischief and will serve a year of probation on a misdemeanor charge of attempted fourth-degree criminal mischief, according to a news release from the Queens County district attorney's office.

Slater, 39, must still pay $10,000 in restitution to JetBlue, the price of repairing or replacing the emergency evacuation chute. He made an initial payment of $500 and must continue to shell out $831.25 each month, the release said.

Slater faced up to four years in prison for the felony charge and up to six months in jail for the misdemeanor charge, the release said. Instead, he underwent a year of court-ordered treatment through the Queens Mental Health Court.

"It's great to see that there is an alternate to hard time for cases that, in my mind, don't necessarily merit hard time," Slater told CNN. "This was a good alternative."

Slater called the past year "long" and "challenging." He said he spent much of it commuting to the New York treatment facility from Los Angeles, where took care of his ill mother, who died this year.

The notorious former flight attendant described the August 9, 2010, incident to CNN's Larry King after his initial sentencing in October of last year.

He said that after the flight, which originated in Pittsburgh, landed at John F. Kennedy Airport, he was berated by a passenger whose luggage had been checked because it would not fit in the overhead bin. Slater said he then swiped a few beers from the beverage cart, deployed the evacuation slide and slid out of the plane.

He was immediately suspended by JetBlue and proceeded to resign from his post as flight attendant in September 2010.

These days, Slater is spending his time completing a memoir about his years in the airline industry and the day that led to his rise to fame.

"It was kind of a watershed moment," he said. "And now I know if I don't take care of myself, no one else will."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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