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October 20, the UA 10 Year Anniversary of Gerard Finneran
This is one of the most amazing air stories I have ever heard.
A few years ago on a United Airlines flight from Buenos Aires to New York, Gerard B. Finneran, an investment banker, went totally bonkers. Newspaper accounts said that after becoming intoxicated, Finneran demanded more alcohol from the flight attendants. When they refused, he began helping himself to the liquor supply. After being cut off a second time, he became visibly angry. He pushed one flight attendant (federal offense No. 1), verbally threatened another (federal offense No. 2), interfered with a third who was assisting a sick passenger (federal offense No. 3), then walked up to the first-class cabin, dropped his pants and defecated on a service cart in plain view of the passengers and crew. Then he stepped in his own feces and tracked it through the main cabin (federal offense Nos. 4, 5 and possibly 6).
Finneran was arrested upon landing in New York. He subsequently pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to two years probation. In addition, he was given 300 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine and was ordered to pay more than $50,000 in restitution to the airline and to reimburse fellow passengers for the price of their tickets.
Airline passenger accused of defecating on food-service cart
NEW YORK (AP) -- An investment banker is accused of assaulting a flight attendant and defecating on a food-service cart during a drunken rampage on a United Airlines flight.
Gerard B. Finneran, 58, managing director of the Trust Company of the West, pleaded innocent Monday to federal charges of assaulting and intimidating an attendant and interfering with a flight crew. He was freed on $100,000 bail.
Federal authorities said the Greenwich, Conn., executive started pouring drinks on himself during a Buenos Aires-to-New York flight that began Friday.
When flight attendants tried to cut him off, he told one attendant he would "bust (his) ...," according to court papers. He allegedly shoved an attendant into a seat.
Later, Finneran was spotted with his pants down, defecating on the food cart, authorities said. He used linen napkins as toilet paper.
John Finnegan, Finneran's lawyer, said his client "vigorously denies the allegations."
One passenger on the plane was President Mario Alberto Soares of Portugal, who was on his way to the United Nation's 50th anniversary celebration.
From another website:
The Associated Press reported that a 56-year-old managing director of a Greenwich, Conn., trust company was busted after going berserk on a United Airlines flight. The trouble started on a flight from Buenos Aires to New York City last Oct 20. when the banking guru made a deposit in a lump sum.
The banker, a Gerard Finneran, had become extremely hammered on the flight and began pouring drinks on his own head. When the flight attendants tried to stop him, he went on a rampage, threatening one stewardess and shoving the other into an empty seat. "Later," the AP dispatch reported, "Finneran lowered his pants and defecated on the food cart, authorities said, using linen napkins as toilet paper."
He was arrested on landing and released on $100,000 bail, and told he could not fly on a commercial airliner without first obtaining written permission from the federal prosecutor. For some strange reason, the court also ordered that he "undergo evaluation for alcohol abuse."
The good news is that the rest of the passengers said that the food cart fare tasted better than usual after the incident.
David Letterman on the incident:
Top Ten "Gerard Finneran Excuses"
As presented on the 10/27/95 broadcast of LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN
10. Misread brochure about advantages of first class
9. Confused when steward asked for headset deposit
8. Went nuts after learning they were out of chicken almondine
7. Though he heard somebody yell, "We're going to crash!" and that was just something he always wanted to do before he died
6. Hoping to impress aloof blonde English woman in 2-D
5. Had already used airphone to call everyone he knew
4. You try drinking for 14 hours and see if you can tell the difference between a food cart and a bathroom
3. All part of an elaborate plan to intimidate the real killers
2. His ... wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment
1. "Oh, like you've never done it"
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I find this guy fascinating. How could you be so professionally successful, have apparently had no incidents with the law, and then end up in such an extreme situation?
Account from Psychology Today:
While the most serious charge facing the executive involved physically assaulting a flight attendant, what breathed life into the story was the airline's astonishing charge that, in the middle of his tantrum, Finneran scaled the beverage cart he was demanding access to and, in front of a cabin full of stunned travelers, dropped his pants and defecated on it. According to the airline, Finneran used linen napkins as toilet paper, wiped his soiled hands on various surfaces, and then, charged the criminal complaint, "tracked feces throughout the aircraft."
While this disturbing tale certainly says something about the unfortunate Mr. Finneran, it says something equally important about his fellow passengers, the newspaper editors who rushed the story to press, and everyone who has since heard about the incident. What it says is that the emotion we call disgust--our feelings of repulsion toward certain objects, behaviors, and people--is tremendously powerful. What it doesn't say is that disgust is also one of only a handful of uniquely human emotions, one that speaks to both our deepest, most irrepressible instincts and to our penchant for taming these instincts.
From both medical and legal perspectives, one would want to know a great deal more about Mr. Finneran both before and after this extraordinary episode. While alcohol suggests itself as the most likely explanation for the (mis)conduct, other causes can be imagined. For example, Finneran was identified as an investment banker traveling internationally and so it may be assumed that he was only temporarily deranged. Suppose, though, he had been quietly slipping into dementia for some time, even while continuing to work as an investment banker. (It has never happened that an individual continued in a high-powered position after no longer being fully capable of performing in that position?) There are other possibilities beyond simple "bad behavior" or "stinking drunk," too.
If I had been the lawyer defending Finneran, I would have had him seen by well-qualified neurologists and psychiatrists and thoroughly evaluated as quickly as possible.
[PS Does anyone think it would be relevant to know if he was a 2P, 1P, 1K, or even a UGS?]
Alcohol - there is the phenomenon of "pathological intoxication," with susceptible individuals becoming intoxicated after amounts that would not have so great an effect on most, then becoming violent or otherwise doing bad things. "Pathologic intoxication" has been offered as an exculpatory excuse when individuals are faced with the consequences of their conduct. The military is especially unreceptive to such excuses, perhaps understandably. If someone seeks to be excused on the basis of "pathologic intoxication," it may be answered that "pathologic intoxication" cannot be proven on the basis of one isolated experience. If the military member would offer as evidence a history of previous such episodes, he/she might be told that having experienced such before, he/she should have known never to imbibe again, and that imbibing again in the face of such self-knowledge constituted misconduct itself and warranted punishment.
I do wonder what happened to Mr. Finneran afterwards. Perhaps he never transgressed again, let alone defecated on another food card, least of all one in the first class section. (With fewer meals served these days, is this sort of thing less likely to repeat itself?) But perhaps he did not return to "normal," instead deteriorating further as the consequence of some organic mental disorder.
Im a UA flight attendant, and was based in New York at the time. A friend was working this flight, and there were even more bizzare occurances.....
He was making out hot and heavy with a woman during the flight (not sure if they were together before takeoff or not...)
They couldn't get clearance to land aircraft early as there were quite a few South American diplomats onboard (cant remember which countries)
The guy tried every move in the book to somehow legally pin events on the crew.
We talked about this one for months!
And, by the way, as far as I remember....this guy was actually the HEAD of his company.
That Mr. Finneran "was actually the HEAD of his company" doesn't rule out the possibility that he was "AB-normal" starting further back in time. Indeed, I can imagine someone with developing organic brain disease managing to hold on longer as head of the company, especially if also the owner, than a subordinate in the company, whose failings would not be overlooked or tolerated for so long.
Yes, it would be interesting to know more about him before and after, as well as more details of the fateful flight. (I think it safe to assume he was not making out hot and heavy with his wife.)
Kudo points to whoever can track down Gerard and find out what he's doing now!
He is still in the NY area, actually living in Manhattan and working in NJ. He was so embarassed about this incident that he changed his name. After years of therapy and medication, "Benjamin " has his problem pretty much under control.