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Orange County man lived in Chicago airport for three months, fearing COVID-19

A worker walks through a baggage claim area at a nearly-empty O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
A worker walks through a baggage claim area at a nearly-empty O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

An Orange County man is facing criminal charges after officials discovered he had been living in Chicago O’Hare Airport for the last three months.

Aditya Singh, 36, was arrested Saturday and charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanor theft, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois.

During a court hearing Sunday, prosecutors said Singh arrived at the airport on an Oct. 19 flight from Los Angeles and proceeded to live within the airport security zone undetected, the Chicago Tribune reported. He told authorities that he was afraid to fly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and said that other passengers at the airport had given him food.

When two United Airlines employees approached Singh and asked for identification Saturday, he reportedly flashed a badge that belonged to an operations manager at the airport who had reported it missing in October, Assistant State’s Atty. Kathleen Hagerty said during the hearing. The employees called the police, who took Singh into custody just after 11 a.m.

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Booking photo of Aditya Singh.
(Cook County Sheriff’s Office)

According to the Tribune, Hagerty said in the hearing that Singh was “scared to go home due to COVID.” He told authorities he had found the badge.

Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood said in the hearing that Singh lived with roommates in Orange and does not have a criminal background. She said it was unclear why Singh came to Chicago or if he has ties to the area.

Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz was reportedly troubled by Singh’s ability to remain in the airport for so long and called the circumstances “quite shocking.”

The judge ruled that Singh could be released if he paid $1,000 but said he was prohibited from setting foot in the airport.

The Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees O’Hare, said Tuesday it has “no higher priority than the safety and security of our airports.”

“While this incident remains under investigation, we have been able to determine that this gentleman did not pose a security risk to the airport or to the traveling public,” the department said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners on a thorough investigation of this matter.”

As of Tuesday morning, Singh was in Cook County Jail. He is scheduled to return to court Jan. 27.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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