By Ivan Pereira
While a former JetBlue flight attendant was walking out of Queens Criminal Court last week after making a deal to avoid time behind bars, a relative of his significant other was being prepared to head into the same building in handcuffs, the Queens district attorney’s office said.
Jonathan Rochelle, 39, was arraigned Oct. 20 on burglary and petit larceny charges after he was arrested by police the day before, Queens DA Richard Brown said.
Jonathan Rochelle is the brother of Ken Rochelle, the boyfriend of Steven Slater, the flight attendant who made headlines for escaping from a JetBlue plane through its emergency chute at John F. Kennedy International Airport after he got into an argument with a passenger.
Jonathan Rochelle allegedly broke into the apartment that his brother and Slater share in the Rockaways Oct. 14 and stole a laptop, printer and microwave, according to the DA. Slater and his partner were not in the apartment during the time of the incident, the DA said.
The former flight attendant entered a conditional guilty plea the same day the accused burglar was arrested and avoided spending one to three years in prison on criminal mischief charges. Instead of prison, Slater will be attending a special mental health program set up by the DA’s office for at least a year and, barring any future arrests during that time period, will be a free man, Brown said.
He will also pay JetBlue $10,000 in restitution for the damage he caused in deploying the emergency chute.
Slater’s grand exit has turned him into an Internet sensation, with thousands of fans worldwide who support the 38-year-old’s unorthodox method of leaving his job.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.