FBI: Stowaway slips onto cross-country flight

June 30th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) — Investigators have charged a man with being a stowaway after he allegedly took a flight from New York to Los Angeles, even though he didn’t have a proper boarding pass and was not on the flight manifest.

 

It wasn’t until after Virgin America Flight 415 took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday that the airline discovered the man, identified as Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, wasn’t supposed to be on the flight, according to an FBI affidavit.

 

But authorities did not arrest him Friday. They arrested him this week, on Wednesday, when he returned to LAX airport in Los Angeles and tried to fraudulently board a Delta flight bound for Atlanta. Officials found he was carrying numerous boarding passes, none in his name, the FBI said.

 

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the FBI did detain Noibi when the flight from New York landed in Los Angeles. Agents investigated to see if he or his luggage posed any immediate threat. They then released him, Eimiller said.

 

The FBI is not saying what investigate steps it may have taken in the following days nor whether it knew Noibi would appear for the Delta flight. The FBI affidavit says an agent was at the Delta departure gate when Noibi arrived.

 

“We are investigating his motivation, and whether it was anything beyond not wanting to pay for a ticket,” Eimiller said.

 

Authorities are also looking to see whether Noibi has used aliases or multiple addresses, she said.

 

Noibi appeared in court Wednesday. His case was continued. He is expected back in U.S. District Court on Friday, Eimiller said.

 

Virgin America had no immediate comment Thursday morning.

 

Noibi is from Nigeria and is a U.S. citizen, Eimiller said.

Public records show he is 24 years old.

 

When flying to Los Angeles last week, Noibi was questioned by a flight attendant. He produced a boarding pass from a different date that was not in his name, FBI Special Agent Kevin Hogg said in the affidavit.

 

The man whose name was on the boarding pass told Hogg that his boarding pass had disappeared from his back pocket after he took the subway to the airport last Thursday, the day before the flight Noibi was on, according to the affidavit.

 

A law enforcement official told CNN there is nothing at this point to indicate terrorism in the case.

 

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Greg Soule issued a statement saying, “Every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening at the checkpoint. TSA’s review of this matter indicates that the passenger went through screening. It is important to note that this passenger was subject to the same physical screening at the checkpoint as other passengers.”

 

The TSA had no further comment due to the ongoing FBI investigation, Soule added.

 

It was not clear how Noibi got to the gate for the flight at JFK.

The University of Michigan website lists someone by that name as being enrolled in an electrical engineering program.

 

The university lists an e-mail address for Noibi. A message from CNN to that address Thursday morning was not immediately returned.

Noibi said he has a U.S. passport that had been stolen and that he had his Nigerian passport at home, Hogg wrote in the affidavit.

Federal law states that being a stowaway on board a flight is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

 

 

A flight attendant noticed Noibi “occupying a seat that the other attendants said was supposed to be empty,” the affidavit says. When the attendant, Satoshi Saito, asked to see his boarding pass, Noibi responded that it was in his bag in an overhead bin, the affidavit said.

 

After the bag was retrieved, Noibi reached in and handed Saito a boarding pass, which had a different date. Noibi said he had missed the flight the day before.

 

Saito then brought the boarding pass to the captain, who instructed Saito to request further ID.

 

“At that point, Noibi did not want to talk with Saito and was hesitant.

 

Eventually Noibi produced a University of Michigan identification card

with his photo and his full name. Saito took the identification card to the captain, who observed that the names did not match and the date was wrong on the boarding pass. The flight crew noted that Noibi was not on the flight manifest.”

 

It is not clear what Noibi did for several days in Los Angeles, but he later told authorities he was recruiting people for his software business.

 

A LinkedIn page for someone with Noibi’s name lists him as “president, CEO and co-founder” of a company and links to its website. The site says the company is in Lagos, Nigeria.

 

A man who answered the phone listed for the company and gave his name only as “Timi” said Noibi does some consulting for the company.

 

On Wednesday, Hogg wrote in his affidavit, he was with an officer from Customs and Border Protection when Noibi approached the Delta departure gate counter at LAX for a flight to Atlanta. Noibi showed a Delta agent “a portion of a green boarding pass,” but the agent told him the ticket was for the previous day and was not a valid boarding pass for the flight.

 

Noibi insisted that he had been told he could go to the gate for the flight, the affidavit said.

 

When Hogg approached Noibi and read him his Miranda rights, Noibi acknowledged that he had not paid for his flight to Los Angeles.

 

He also said he spent the night at LAX in the secure portion of the airport, the affidavit said. “Noibi claimed he was able to go through passenger screening by obtaining a seat pass and displaying his University of Michigan identification and a police report that his passport had been stolen.”

 

Authorities found he had two boarding passes in his pocket and more than 10 in his two bags. “Noibi did not have any boarding passes in his own name,” the affidavit said.

 

FBI spokeswoman Eimiller said the FBI has not determined how he came into possession of the boarding passes.