Co-pilot guilty of operating plane drunk sentenced to prison

Oct 16, 2017

A co-pilot convicted of being drunk while preparing for a charter airline flight has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Sean Michael Fitzgerald was also fined $5,500 on Friday. U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said Fitzgerald's behavior was "simply intolerable." A Grand Rapids federal court jury convicted Fitzgerald in May of operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol.

The 35-year-old New Jersey man was arrested Aug. 25, 2016, at Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport while preparing for a Talon Air flight to Massachusetts. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.34 percent, which is 17 times the legal limit for flying a plane. 

Fitzgerald apologized and said he's being treated for alcohol abuse. Jonker ordered Fitzgerald to surrender to prison within 10 weeks.