Time served, deportation for groping on a plane

John Shiffman, Inquirer Staff Writer

Updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 2:27 AM

An Indian computer engineer who groped female passengers during a London-to-Philadelphia flight in March and later caused a commotion in a courtroom here was sentenced yesterday to 69 days in prison, or time served.

Thirumurthy Nakka Boomaiah of Chennai, India, is expected to be deported. He had pleaded guilty to interfering with a flight crew and faced a sentence of as long as six months.

Boomaiah was arrested March 21 at Philadelphia International Airport after passengers and crew complained that he had rubbed the legs and genital areas of female passengers and thrown water in the face of a flight attendant who told him to stop. Passengers told authorities that after crew members strapped Boomaiah to his seat, he continued to shout obscenities until the plane landed.

During his first appearance before a federal magistrate in Philadelphia, Boomaiah was wrestled to the courtroom floor by marshals after he began to move toward a female clerk and shouted, "I am a man! I am a man!"

Government doctors initially found Boomaiah incompetent to stand trial. About a week later, they conducted further tests and determined that he had regained competency.

In a court filing, Boomaiah's lawyers, James J. Eisenhower and Sean P. Whalen, said that the conduct on the plane and in court was "an aberration."

Boomaiah had never before suffered from mental illness, the lawyers said.

"Boomaiah attended top universities in India and received a bachelor and master of engineering and a postgraduate diploma in management," the lawyers said in the filing. He had been in this region to work for a firm near Washington.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Zaleski said the government was satisfied with the outcome.

Contact staff writer John Shiffman at 215-854-2658 or

John Shiffman, Inquirer Staff Writer

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