Image: Police Mug Shot Of Stow Away Charles Mckinley
Charles McKinley, of Brooklyn, N.Y.. in a police mug shot.
updated 11/7/2003 4:14:03 AM ET 2003-11-07T09:14:03

A former shipping clerk has pleaded guilty in federal court to shipping himself from New York to Dallas in a wooden cargo crate.

CHARLES D. MCKINLEY, 25, pleaded guilty Thursday to stowing away on a cargo jet, a misdemeanor. Possible punishment ranges from probation to a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced Feb. 4.

McKinley declined to comment after the 20-minute hearing. His attorney Bill Glaspy said he advised McKinley to plead guilty because “he told what he did to every newspaper and television station in the country, I think.”

The plea was not part of a plea bargain, said U.S. Attorney Fred Schattman.

McKinley’s trial had been set for Monday. He had previously agreed to have U.S. Magistrate Charles Bleil hear the case rather than a jury or a federal district judge.

McKinley, who worked at a New York warehouse, journeyed overnight about 1,500 miles by truck, plane and delivery van before popping out of the box Sept. 6 at his startled parents’ home in DeSoto, a Dallas suburb.

The shaken delivery company employee left the house and called police.

McKinley has said he made the 15-hour trip - eluding security at five airports - because he was homesick and thought he could save money by flying cargo.

McKinley said he took a cell phone, which didn’t work, but no food or water. He told some reporters he occasionally got out of the 42-by-36-by-15-inch crate.

He also said an accomplice closed the box and shipped him. But in his signed statement to the FBI, McKinley claimed no one else was involved.

The incident renewed debate over the air cargo system’s vulnerability to terrorists. Unlike the tight federal security for airline passengers, air cargo receives little federal scrutiny and is the responsibility of the shipper.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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