Florida Keys

Homeless man who tried to stow away on a plane gets a one-way ticket to jail for 4 years


A homeless man was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday after he tried to stow away on a Key West flight bound for Atlanta.

James Crabtree, 35, will get credit for time served since he hasn't left jail since his arrest June 4, 2015.

Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones called Crabtree's crime "atrocious," criminal and selfish, saying he could have put in harm's way passengers, airline staff and the airport by breaking into the Delta plane and curling up in a storage bin.

Jones also criticized him for his courtroom antics, which included not cooperating with his attorney, who said Crabtree suffered from mental illness.

Crabtree attended court in a wheelchair-type device despite having no disabilities that prevent him from walking, according to State Attorney's Office spokesman Larry Kahn.

Crabtree told police he had arrived in Key West on a Greyhound bus the night before.

A Delta employee found him curled up in a storage bin at about 6:15 a.m. the next day.

“It was better than sleeping in a chair,” he told a sheriff’s deputy, who asked if he had been uncomfortable. “I slept very good in there.”

Crabtree said he needed to get out of the country because of a CIA conspiracy working against him. He mentioned Cuba, but the flight was scheduled for a 7:10 a.m. departure to Atlanta. It was delayed for an hour before taking off.

A jury on May 24 convicted Crabtree of burglary of a conveyance, a third-degree felony, after a half-day trial.