A man accused of hiding in a US airport for three months was “too scared to go home” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a court has heard.
- The 36-year-old told police the coronavirus pandemic left him afraid to fly
- He was arrested after showing an airport operations manager’s missing badge to staff
- Mr Singh told authorities other passengers had been giving him food
Californian man Aditya Singh has been arrested on charges that he hid in a secured area at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for three months.
After his arrest on Saturday, the 36-year-old told police the coronavirus pandemic left him afraid to fly.
His lawyer, assistant public defender Courtney Smallwood, said it was unclear why Mr Singh came to Chicago or whether he had ties to the area.
She said he was unemployed and did not have a criminal record.
Mr Singh was spotted by two United Airlines employees who asked him for identification.
He allegedly lowered his mask and showed a badge that actually belonged to an airport operations manager who had reported it missing in late October, prosecutor Kathleen Hagerty said.
The employees called police and they took Mr Singh into custody.
Mr Singh was “scared to go home due to COVID”, Ms Hagerty said.
She said he told authorities he had found the badge and other passengers at the airport had given him food.
Mr Singh is charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanour theft.
Before she granted Mr Singh bail, Cook County judge Susana Ortiz said it was troubling that someone could remain in a secured area at the airport for so long without anyone noticing.
“Being in a secured part of the airport under a fake ID badge allegedly, based upon the need for airports to be absolutely secure so that people feel safe to travel, I do find those alleged actions do make him a danger to the community.”
She said Mr Singh was prohibited from setting foot in the airport but he could be released if he paid $1,000.
However, Mr Singh remains in the Cook County Jail.
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