Chicago prosecutors say 36-year-old Aditya Singh lived in the city’s O’Hare International Airport for three months to avoid flying home to Los Angeles, California, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
CWB Chicago, which regularly covers the city’s bond hearings, noticed Singh’s case on Sunday when Singh came up for bond on charges of criminal trespass to a restricted area and petty theft, apparently for continuing to use an airport worker’s misplaced credential.
Singh first arrived in Chicago on a flight from Los Angeles on October 19th of last year and has lived inside O’Hare’s Terminal 2 since then, mostly relying on other passengers to provide him with food. At one point, officials say, Singh found an airport operations manager’s credential, but it does not appear he used it to bypass TSA security.
“Saturday morning, two United Airlines employees confronted Singh at the airport about his status and asked to see his work ID,” per CWB. “Singh lowered his COVID mask and showed him an airport ID that he wore around his neck.”
The credential was registered as having been lost or stolen on October 26, 2019. “Singh admitted that he found the airport credentials in Terminal 3 and said he was afraid to fly home due to COVID and because other passengers gave him food.” The two employees called 911 and Singh was taken into custody at 11:10 am on Saturday.
Authorities, including the Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees travel in and out of O’Hare, could hardly believe the situation, though the CDA was, at least, clear that Singh was not a security risk.
“While this incident remains under investigation, we have been able to determine that this gentleman did not pose a security risk to the airport or to the traveling public,” the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement Monday morning, according to ABC News Chicago. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners on a thorough investigation of this matter.”
Chicago judge Susana Ortiz presided over Singh’s hearing and was reportedly shocked” by the full story of Singh’s arrest.
“You’re telling me that an unauthorized, non-employee individual was allegedly living within the secure part of the O’Hare airport terminal from [October 19, 2020, to January 16, 2021] and was not detected?” she asked prosecutors, incredulously.
“That is correct, your honor,” the prosecutor responded.
“The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred,” the judge responded. “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.”
“According to his defense attorney, Singh, who has no criminal background, lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange, California. He has a master’s degree in hospitality,” CWB reported. And despite his concerns about flying home during the coronavirus pandemic, Singh, who was given a $10,000 bond, requested through his attorney that he be allowed to return to LA. It’s not known why he flew to Chicago in the first place.
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