Serial stowaway sentenced to 6 months of house arrest

SHARE Serial stowaway sentenced to 6 months of house arrest

Marilyn Hartman. Hartman, 63, insisted she wouldn’t try to fly without a ticket anymore But she was caught again last month. | Cook County Sheriff’s Department photo

Marilyn Hartman seems compelled to sneak around airports, and when she can, slip onto planes. But the 64-year-old will spend the next six months on house arrest at a mental health facility and risks a year in jail if she turns up at an airport without a ticket during the next two years, a Cook County Judge has ruled.

Judge William Raines scolded Hartman on Thursday as he handed down her sentence for trespassing charges from Feb. 17, when she slipped away from a mental health facility for a clandestine visit to O’Hare airport. That trip also earned her charges for violating her probation after she was charged in attempts to sneak onto planes at O’Hare and Midway on consecutive days in July.

Hartman will spend the next six months at the Margaret Manor mental health facility and two years on mental health probation. If she violates her probation, Raines said she would land in jail for up to a year and pay a $2,500 fine.

“This the end of the line here. . . . This is a going to basically be a jail sentence,” Raines said as Hartman stood placidly in her blue jail jumpsuit, with half a dozen reporters seated in the misdemeanor courtroom gallery behind her.

“You cannot leave Margaret Manor. If you walk out on the street, you’re going to jail.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations (about) you. . . . At this point, I’m thinking about punishment,” the judge said.

Raines’ ruling came after a 30-minute conference in chambers with her public defender, prosecutors and mental health officials who have dealt with Hartman since her first arrest in Chicago in 2014.

Prosecutors said Thursday that Hartman has been arrested and stopped by police on airport property a dozen times in four states. In August 2014, Hartman successfully boarded a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to Los Angeles by slipping past TSA agents checking a family’s boarding passes, then past the gate agent.

Hartman already has spent several months at Margaret Manor during her probation for attempting to board planes last summer, and briefly earned her way to the less-restrictive Sacred Heart facility in December. Once there, officials say she attempted to slip away at least seven times in the weeks before her February arrest.

Hartman was wearing an electronic monitoring anklet when she left the facility on Feb. 17, and the device alerted authorities that she was near O’Hare, prompting a search that involved a dozen Chicago Police officers, Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Allen said.

“It’s not like Ms. Hartman is trespassing at, I don’t know, Grant Park,” Allen said. “She’s going to the airport . . . She is drawing Chicago police officers from keeping the traveling public safe.

“It’s not like ‘catch me if you can,’ it’s almost ‘like come catch me.’ ”

Allen and Hartman’s attorney, Parle Roe-Taylor, said it did not appear that Hartman had family interested in helping her. Raines noted that Hartman receives Social Security and said she would pay for her treatment, though her attorney said that it was likely Medicaid would pay for her care.

Even as Raines ordered Hartman out of the Cook County Jail to a treatment facility, the judge told her he fully expected her latest journey through the mental health system to be a round-trip.

“I don’t feel very confident,” Raines said. “I think that you’re going to be back.”

Noting the reporters in the courtroom and the numerous interviews Hartman had granted reporters after each arrest, Raines surmised that Hartman was “addicted to the attention” and barred her from contacting reporters.

Hartman was largely silent during the hearing, softly answering yes-and-no questions from the judge. Despite nearly 30 minutes of being chastised by the judge, she walked from the courtroom with a smile on her face, hands clasped behind her back as she headed back to the lockup.

Her attorney said she was “optimistic” that Hartman would be able to stick with her therapy and stay away from airports. Hartman has never confided what makes her want to wander onto planes despite the threat of jail time, Roe-Taylor said.

“All of us have the ability to control themselves,” Roe-Taylor said. “What brings her to the airport, I can’t answer.

“I hope it has reached that point where she is willing to the best decisions to engage” in her treatment, she said.

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