Szele just can't straighten up and fly right

Christina Szele.

Colorado’s most famous accidental tourist, Christina Elizabeth Szele, has a date in a Colorado court today, but she won’t be here in person. And that’s too bad, because we’d love to hear what legendary U. S. District Judge John Kane (profiled in this 2001 Westword feature) has to say to the 35-year-old New Yorker, who was lit when she lit up a cigarette on a San Francisco to New York JetBlue flight in June.

After a flight attendant asked her to put out the cigarette, Szele spewed obscenities, according to an FBI affidavit. Flight attendants put Szele in flex cuffs, but she broke free and punched an attendant in the face, then assaulted a second JetBlue worker. Because of the commotion, the pilot landed the flight in Denver -- and Szele landed in jail here.

And she’ll soon be back, because Szele broke the terms of the $10,000 bond that allowed her to return to New York, with her case was transferred to U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York.

After Szele twice tested positive for cocaine and then was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking her roommate in Queens, Szele was re-arrested on September 15. At a hearing in Brooklyn on September 23, her case was transferred back to Colorado, according to Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office.

But Szele, who’s now locked up in New York, has yet to be transferred back to Colorado. Banned from travel on commercial airlines – a standard stipulation when someone is charged with interfering with flight crews -- she’ll return to Denver when U.S. marshals have an opening on one of their con-air flights, which could be a couple of weeks.

Her case has already arrived in Kane’s courtroom, though, where there will be a status hearing at 3 p.m. today.

Our verdict's already in: Once a shmuck, always a smuck. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun