Woman in cocaine case to be sent back to Calif.

Posted at 12:35 PM, Mar 25, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — A JetBlue flight attendant accused of trying to sneak a suitcase full of cocaine through Los Angeles International Airport and making a dramatic dash to escape has been ordered returned to California.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles issued the order Thursday after prosecutors appealed a New York City jurist's decision to free Marsha Gay Reynolds on $500,000 bail.

Birotte directed U.S. marshals to transport the Jamaica-born Reynolds, 31, to Los Angeles. She was scheduled to appear in Brooklyn federal court Friday afternoon.

Reynolds, a U.S. citizen and resident of Queens, is a former Jamaican beauty queen and New York University track athlete. She surrendered in New York on Wednesday.

Authorities said they found 70 pounds of cocaine in her luggage at LAX on March 18 after she was flagged for a random security screening, flung off her high heels and bolted barefoot down an upward-moving escalator. They said she ran out of the terminal and crossed the country to New York.

Birotte decided she should remain in custody while being transported to an April 7 hearing in Los Angeles.

Allan Jennings, a spokesman for Reynolds' legal team, said defense lawyers were not invited to appear before Birotte before he issued his order late Thursday in Los Angeles.

"It was grossly unfair for him to sign an order without giving her an opportunity to be heard," he said.

As a former U.S. attorney, Birotte has some experience with the subject of drug smuggling at LAX.

In 2012, he announced the arrests of two one-time Transportation Security Administration employees on drug trafficking and bribery charges. The indictment in a case brought against seven individuals described five incidents when TSA employees accepted payments of up to $2,400 to give drug couriers access at LAX over a six-month period in 2011.

"The allegations in this case describe a significant breakdown of the screening system through the conduct of individuals who placed greed above the nation's security needs," Birotte said at the time.