Pennsylvania man pleads to lesser count for in-flight fondle

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh-area man has pleaded guilty to a lesser federal assault charge for fondling a sleeping woman during a flight from Las Vegas.

Fifty-nine-year-old Wei-Ming Shi, of Mount Lebanon, pleaded guilty Monday to simple assault on an aircraft during flight and has agreed to a $5,000 fine. A federal judge in Pittsburgh can also impose up to six months in jail and probation when Shi is sentenced March 16. The original charge of unlawful sexual contact carried up to three years in prison.

Shi’s attorney told the judge the incident stemmed from flirting aboard the Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh in August 2016.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kaufman disputed there was any flirting before Shi put his hand under the woman’s dress onto her thigh, buttocks and back.

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