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Man admits to setting fire on Delta flight that was diverted to Denver

The flight was headed from LA to Detroit when it was diverted to Denver on April 1 after a fire in the bathroom.
Delta Airlines at DIA (DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT)

DENVER — A man who was arrested at Denver International Airport in April after a fire on a Delta Airlines flight pleaded guilty to the attempted destruction of an aircraft, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Robert Vincent Allen, a resident of Pennsylvania, appeared in court remotely and is free on bond.

According to Allen’s plea agreement, on the morning of April 1, Allen boarded Delta Air Lines flight 1706 at the Los Angeles International Airport and was scheduled to fly to Detroit, Michigan. 

RELATED: Flight diverted to Denver because bathroom door got stuck — and someone was in there

Shortly after take-off, other passengers observed Allen acting strangely, moving continuously about the cabin, and switching seats.

Delta crewmembers monitored Allen, advised the pilot in command of a possible issue, and attempted to get Allen settled, federal prosecutors said.

Allen later entered the lavatory, and refused to come out. While he was in there the lavatory smoke alarm went off.

RELATED: 'Disruptive passengers' upset over apparent sick person cause flight to be diverted to Denver

According to federal prosecutors, crewmembers forced open the door, removed Allen from the lavatory and extinguished burning paper he had set on fire.

After hearing the alarm, the pilot concluded the flight could not continue safely and diverted the flight to Denver International Airport (DIA). Officers arrested Allen after the flight landed at DIA.

Allen was charged in a federal criminal complaint on April 2, and indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on June 2. 

He will be sentenced on Dec. 16. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of $250,000 and payment of restitution to Delta Air Lines.

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