LOS ANGELES (CN) - A judge on Thursday set bond at $500,000 for a JetBlue flight attendant who fled after dumping almost 70 pounds of cocaine in carry-on bags at LAX last week, but stayed the order pending a possible government appeal.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said Marsha Gay Reynolds, 31, of Jamaica, New York turned herself into Drug Enforcement Administration officials at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday, five days after she was stopped at an LAX security check point, took off her shoes, dumped her bags and fled down upward-traveling escalator.
Reynolds was a runner-up in the Miss Jamaica World contest of 2008, prosecutors believe.
A magistrate judge set bond at $500,000, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said, but Reynolds will remain in custody until her next scheduled hearing Friday at 2:00 p.m. in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Mrozek said the government had requested a stay so that prosecutors in Los Angeles can decide whether to appeal.
Absent that appeal, Reynolds will be released on bail, he said.
According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Trayvon Barnes, Reynolds arrived at a crew member security checkpoint at LAX around 7:00 p.m. last Friday wearing a black suit jacket and jeans, towing wheeled carry-on bags and carrying a large duffel purse.
After a security officer scanned her crew badge he informed her that she had been randomly selected for additional security screening and called for another officer to escort her to a second checkpoint, the affidavit says.
The officer Jamie Samuel told the FBI that Reynolds looked anxious and made a phone call in a foreign language, and when the second security officer arrived and walked Reynolds over to the second checkpoint, he noticed that she was not following closely, the affidavit says.
During the walk to the second checkpoint Reynolds continued to talk on her phone, the affidavit says.
After James asked for Reynolds' identification and badge at the second security checkpoint she dropped her carry-on luggage, took off her Gucci high heels and ran away, fleeing down the up escalator and out of Terminal 4 in the direction of Terminal 5.
The officer who had escorted Reynolds to the secondary screening area did not run after the flight attendant because he was more concerned about the abandoned luggage, according to the affidavit.
An LAX police officer opened the luggage and discovered 11 packages of cocaine wrapped in green cellophane, labeled "Big Ranch" and weighing almost 68.49 pounds, according to the 9-page affidavit.
Authorities were unable to locate Reynolds in the airport, the affidavit says.
U.S. Attorney Eileen Deck said in a statement that individuals with security clearances at airports should "honor the trust placed in them."
"The defendant's conduct violated that trust and, in the process, exposed the public to a major narcotics transaction and the dangers inherent to such a transaction," Decker said.
Reynolds boarded a JetBlue plane on Saturday and may have traveled to New York as part of her job duties, a law enforcement source told the LA Times. It is not clear which airport Reynolds flew out of, and Mrozek said his office could only confirm that Reynolds had flown to New York by plane.
Reynolds has been charged with knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. She faces at least 10 years and up to life in federal prison if convicted.
JetBlue Airways spokeswoman Sharon Jones said that the airline is cooperating with investigators but declined to comment further.
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