A North Carolina man was sentenced to a year in prison in the aftermath of a 2019 incident in which he punched an airline passenger in the face during a flight to Portland. (Photo by KML/Pexels via Canva)

A lot of crime-related releases make their way in and out of my email system and 90% of them have nothing to do with Philomath and get dragged into the trash. But this one caught my eye not only because of the uniqueness of the incident but for the sentence this guy received.

So, let me set the stage. A man named Yuriy Poplauskiy, who is now 40 years old and calls Charlotte, North Carolina home, boarded a flight in Denver for a trip to Portland. Court documents show that during the flight, other passengers felt he was acting strange that led some to believe he was drunk.

Here’s what happened next:

“With 25 minutes remaining in the flight, Poplauskiy peered through a gap in the seats at a man sitting behind him on the aisle,” a release about the sentencing states. “Poplauskiy glared at the man and mumbled ‘when we land, I’ll see you at the airport.’ Poplauskiy then stood up, called the man a name and punched him in the jaw.”

According to the court documents, Poplauskiy then ran to the restroom but eventually returned to his seat. Minutes later, prior to landing, he tried to start a fight with another male passenger and also groped a male flight attendant’s genitals.

Police officers met the plane at the gate in Portland and arrested him.

In September 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Poplauskiy with assault by striking while on board an aircraft. Before sentencing on Monday, he pleaded guilty to the single charge.

Prior to his plea and sentencing, Poplauskiy violated his pretrial release conditions six times, including by incurring two new criminal convictions for unlawfully possessing methamphetamine and eluding arrest in a motor vehicle.

Ah, so perhaps that plays into the one-year sentence. And based on that meth conviction, it makes you wonder if the guy was on drugs during the incident. Just a thought.

I feel for the guy who got punched, the flight attendant and the passengers on the plane. That must’ve been pretty scary to experience something like that in such close quarters.

On a flight that I took from Denver to St. Louis last year, there was a man across the aisle and a few seats up from me who refused to put his face mask on and it just created this very uncomfortable, tense atmosphere for much of the trip. That’s nothing compared to what the stress level must’ve been during this punch-in-the-face incident.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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