An American Airlines trainee has confessed to calling in eight bomb threats to competing United Airlines. The 40-year old Patrick Cau ended up on the “no fly” list, and it’s highly likely that he’s now on his way to prison.
Multiple media sources like NBC said that a federal court in California unveiled an 18-page plea agreement on Wednesday. American Airlines sent around an email about Patrick Cau’s arrest to its employees on Tuesday.
As you can see in the video, the short version is that American Airlines trainee Patrick Cau used payphones in various cities to call in bomb threats to United Airlines between October 2012 and January 2013. Presumably he was already flying around as a flight attendant trainee for American, although the timeline hasn’t been made entirely clear to the public.
Six of the threats were for long-haul international flights between Los Angeles and London.
The Dallas News said that the American Airlines trainee admitted using an “internal United crew-scheduling number” to say that the flights would be bombed. There were no bombs found.
The American Airlines email said there’s no reason to believe there was any genuine terrorism threat.
In other words, the bomb threats were a hoax — and a costly one for United, which had to deplane and search each of the flights in question.
In May Cau was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas for the threats and placed immediately on the “no fly” list.
But, of course, the trainee had already cleared the background checks for American Airlines.
It isn’t entirely clear exactly when AA figured out that Cau was on the “no fly” list or if he made any flights for the airline after he was identified as the bomb hoaxer. WFAA said that American Airlines wouldn’t even confirm exactly when Cau was cleared to enter their training program, only that it was sometime before the arrest.
In any case, AA did fire Cau at some point in May after the arrest.
United Airlines estimated their losses at over $260,000. WFAA said that Cau has reportedly already agreed to repay $250,000, although it isn’t clear how he can. The US attorney has also recommended that he serve 21 to 27 months in prison.
It also isn’t clear why the trainee made the hoax calls, although United has acknowledged that he previously worked for that airline.
There are clearly a lot of holes in this story. But Patrick Cau, also known as Patrick Kaiser, will reportedly make a formal guilty plea next week.
At that time, maybe we’ll learn more about the motives or the actual sequence of events in the “no fly” list American Airline trainee’s bomb threat hoax.
[American Airlines photo by Patrick Cardinal via Flickr]