by Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune
Friday August 21, 2009

Headed for Mardi Gras, the tourist was rude and rowdy, ordering the stewardess to bring him another drink.

When he was denied more alcohol, Paul Henry Boritzer told a fateful fib.

He said he was an air marshal and a U.S. Airway pilot. Bad idea.

For that, Boritzer will face a federal judge who in December will decide on a sentence that, at its maximum, would put him in prison for 29 years and carry a $1 million fine.

Boritzer, 46, of New York City, was found guilty Thursday in federal court in New Orleans of interfering with a flight crew and impersonating a federal air marshal while flying from New York to New Orleans this year, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office.

Bound for Mardi Gras, Boritzer apparently started his partying well before he got on the Jet Blue flight. Ten minutes after takeoff, he began walking about the cabin “in a loud and disruptive behavior, ” according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Steven Naum. The stewardess noted he smelled of alcohol and appeared drunk.

When she asked that he return to his seat, he pulled fake rank, saying he was with the feds. The real feds, however, later became involved. Any commercial flight is considered “special aircraft jurisdiction” of the United States under federal law.

Boritzer, who also goes by the name John I. Michaels, repeatedly argued with the flight crew and paced the plane’s cabin. The pilot was notified.

When the flight attendant delivered the pilot’s final order for him to sit down, Boritzer replied, “Who do you think you are?” according to court records. He followed up by calling her a “bitch.”

After his arrest, Boritzer signed a $20,000 personal recognizance bond and promised to refrain from alcohol and stay off commercial flights unless approved by his “pretrial services” officer.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9 by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier.