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Frieda Pleads Guilty in Airline Fracas

NEW YORK — John Frieda entered a plea of guilty Thursday at the United States District Court Southern District of California on misdemeanor charges of assault on an airliner for an incident that took place on a flight last month from New York to...

NEW YORK — John Frieda entered a plea of guilty Thursday at the United States District Court Southern District of California on misdemeanor charges of assault on an airliner for an incident that took place on a flight last month from New York to San Diego. The charge of interference with a flight attendant, a felony, was dropped as part of Frieda’s guilty plea to the lesser charge. Frieda was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and will be on unsupervised probation for six months.

Frieda, founder and co-owner of John Frieda Professional Hair Care, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on June 17 at the San Diego Convention Center as he attended the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace Meeting. He was released on $20,000 bond the following day.

According to court papers, about 20 minutes after American Airlines Flight 127 departed John F. Kennedy Airport en route to Lindbergh Field in San Diego on June 15, Frieda, seated in business class, “approached the front of the airplane in an attempt to use the lavatory closest to the cockpit,” which was located in first class.

The complainant, Heath Darnell Hedder, a flight attendant, instructed Frieda that he was not allowed to be out of his seat nor allowed to use the lavatory. Court papers state that an altercation between Frieda and Hedder ensued after Frieda used the lavatory anyway. The flight attendant reported the incident to the captain, who spent the next 25 minutes determining “whether to divert the plane.” The flight continued as scheduled. When the flight landed, Frieda was met by FBI agents, questioned and released, but further investigation led to his arrest two days later.

A statement issued by Frieda’s firm said, “Although there is a substantial dispute as to the facts, in light of the impact of the events of Sept. 11 on air travel and flight crews, and based on the advice of counsel, Mr. Frieda agreed to a compromise by accepting a misdemeanor and paying a small fine. All other charges were dismissed.”

Frieda’s publicist, Jacquie Tractenberg, said, “I have worked with John for nearly a decade and I’ve never known him to be anything other than a perfect gentleman. In fact, anyone who knows John at all knows that the claims against him are completely out of character.” Frieda is one of the biggest names in the hair care industry. He has built a $300 million global hair care empire in the past 12 years. He is most known for his anti-frizz hair product, Frizz-Ease.

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

NEW YORK — John Frieda entered a plea of guilty Thursday at the United States District Court Southern District of California on misdemeanor charges of assault on an airliner for an incident that took place on a flight last month from New York to San Diego. The charge of interference with a flight attendant, a felony, was dropped as part of Frieda’s guilty plea to the lesser charge. Frieda was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and will be on unsupervised probation for six months.

Frieda, founder and co-owner of John Frieda Professional Hair Care, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on June 17 at the San Diego Convention Center as he attended the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace Meeting. He was released on $20,000 bond the following day.

According to court papers, about 20 minutes after American Airlines Flight 127 departed John F. Kennedy Airport en route to Lindbergh Field in San Diego on June 15, Frieda, seated in business class, “approached the front of the airplane in an attempt to use the lavatory closest to the cockpit,” which was located in first class.

The complainant, Heath Darnell Hedder, a flight attendant, instructed Frieda that he was not allowed to be out of his seat nor allowed to use the lavatory. Court papers state that an altercation between Frieda and Hedder ensued after Frieda used the lavatory anyway. The flight attendant reported the incident to the captain, who spent the next 25 minutes determining “whether to divert the plane.” The flight continued as scheduled. When the flight landed, Frieda was met by FBI agents, questioned and released, but further investigation led to his arrest two days later.

A statement issued by Frieda’s firm said, “Although there is a substantial dispute as to the facts, in light of the impact of the events of Sept. 11 on air travel and flight crews, and based on the advice of counsel, Mr. Frieda agreed to a compromise by accepting a misdemeanor and paying a small fine. All other charges were dismissed.”

Frieda’s publicist, Jacquie Tractenberg, said, “I have worked with John for nearly a decade and I’ve never known him to be anything other than a perfect gentleman. In fact, anyone who knows John at all knows that the claims against him are completely out of character.” Frieda is one of the biggest names in the hair care industry. He has built a $300 million global hair care empire in the past 12 years. He is most known for his anti-frizz hair product, Frizz-Ease.