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Published: Saturday, 2/20/2010

Toledoan says he's innocent in jet incident

BLADE STAFF
Mansor Mohammad Asad, shown in a Miami courtroom, was ordered to pay restitution of $27,500 to Delta Air Lines and given three years of probation for the incident at Miami International Airport. He also will be placed on a federal no-fly list and will be barred from using mass transport. Mansor Mohammad Asad, shown in a Miami courtroom, was ordered to pay restitution of $27,500 to Delta Air Lines and given three years of probation for the incident at Miami International Airport. He also will be placed on a federal no-fly list and will be barred from using mass transport.
C.W. GRIFFIN/HERALD STAFF / AP Enlarge

MIAMI - Mansor Mohammad "Mickey" Asad maintains his innocence despite pleading guilty Thursday to yelling anti-Semitic threats aboard a Delta Airlines plane at Miami International in January.

The 43-year-old Toledoan, whose family operates the Appliance Connection store on Lagrange Street in North Toledo, said he copped a plea to end his incarceration in a South Florida jail so he could be reunited with his fiancee, Jessica Fruto, and the couple's newborn girl.

The child is 3 months old, the last two of which Asad has been in custody. Asad, a Woodward High School graduate, originally went to Miami for a vacation.

"It was a plead of convenience," Mr. Asad said by phone. "I've already been incarcerated over two months. I have children and expenses. I wanted to get back to ... Toledo."

Asad pleaded guilty Thursday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court to charges of disrupting a flight and quarreling with police. "I just decided to go ahead and take the plea and save money," he said.

Asad received three years' probation and was ordered to pay $27,500 in restitution to Delta. He also is to be placed on a federal "no-fly" list and will be barred from traveling by rail and other mass transport.

Miami-Dade police said they used a Taser gun on him twice because of his unruly behavior. "I wish [police] hadn't Tasered me while I was on my knees," he said.

Ms. Fruto and Asad's daughter, Latasha Asad, 25, spoke on his behalf at a news conference in Miami yesterday.

"He's not a terrorist. He's a family man, a good man. It just hurts what happened," Ms. Fruto said.

Ms. Asad, a Lourdes College graduate, called the charges against him "ridiculous," and said the allegations are not consistent with his personality.

"He's just a kind person and always looking out for others," she said. "I'm very upset. We're Arab and Muslim. I think he was singled out."

Authorities have claimed he wasn't singled out - they say that he had made racial threats and charged at an officer.

The incident occurred Jan. 6, a time of heightened tensions over terrorist threats. On Christmas Day, a Nigerian man on a flight from Amsterdam had tried to bomb a Detroit-bound jet.

Asad said he has been on medication for a bipolar condition. But he said that did not factor into his behavior, and he "didn't want to use my mental illness as an excuse."



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