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LAX's Russian mystery man convicted for hopping flight without passport, ticket

Los Angeles, CA - November 23: An airplane lifts off as viewed with the Theme Building in the foreground as travelers navigate a busy Los Angeles International Airport amid the Thanksgiving holiday rush in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
An airplane lifts off as viewed with the Theme Building in the foreground as travelers navigate a busy Los Angeles International Airport on Nov. 23, 2021. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A Russian man who slipped past Danish airport security to board a flight to Los Angeles International Airport without a passport, visa or ticket was found guilty of being a stowaway, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

After a three-day trial, 46-year-old Sergey Vladimirovich Ochigava was found guilty of one count of being a stowaway on an aircraft.

He faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 5.

Authorities say Ochigava slipped aboard a flight to Los Angeles on Nov. 4 after passing through a Copenhagen Airport boarding gate undetected.

He had been able to get into the airport terminal without a boarding pass a day earlier after tailgating an unsuspecting passenger through a security turnstile, prosecutors said.

Read more: LAX's Russian mystery man: A chatty, chocolate-stealing passenger — with no passport, no ticket

During the more than 12-hour flight aboard Scandinavian Airlines Flight 931, Ochigava constantly shifted seats, spoke to several passengers, asked for two in-flight meals and tried to snack on a cabin crew member’s chocolate bar, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors.

Upon arrival at LAX, Customs and Border Protection officers stopped Ochigava at an immigration checkpoint, and were unable to find him on the manifest of that flight or any other incoming international flights, court documents said.

Ochigava was unable to produce a passport, visa or other travel documents that would allow him entrance into the country, according to the Department of Justice. When questioned, authorities say, he provided false and misleading information about his journey to the United States, including claiming he had left his passport on the plane.

Russian and Israeli identification cards were found in his possession when police searched his bag, according to court documents.

Additional details as to the motivation behind Ochigava's journey were not immediately available.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.