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Passenger returning from 'Judge Judy' appearance arrested in thefts on plane, PA says

Melissa Perez, 26, of the Bronx, was arrested

Melissa Perez, 26, of the Bronx, was arrested on Thursday, April 30, 2015, at Kennedy Airport and charged with stealing items from a flight attendant and fellow passenger on the plane. Credit: Port Authority PD

A Bronx woman returning to New York following an appearance on the "Judge Judy" show was arrested as she stepped off a plane at Kennedy Airport early Thursday after authorities said she stole items from a flight attendant and passenger.

A spokesman for the Port Authority identified the woman arrested as Melissa Perez, 26. She was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. The Port Authority said Perez also was found to be in possession of marijuana.

Port Authority spokesman Joseph Pentangelo said Perez has eight prior arrests, including two felony arrests on drug charges, and said she told Port Authority police she was returning to New York from Los Angeles after an appearance on "Judge Judy."

The reality TV court show on CBS features retired Manhattan Family Court Judge Judith Sheindlin presiding over small claim disputes.

A spokesman for the show said Perez appeared before the judge on Wednesday. He declined to comment further.

Court records show Perez currently has three scheduled appearances in Bronx Criminal Court, including one follow-up to a conditional discharge of misdemeanor trespassing and drug charges. The other cases involve harassment, stolen property, menacing and assault charges, according to records.

Port Authority police said Perez was arrested as she stepped off American Airlines Flight 22 after its arrival just after midnight at Kennedy.

The flight had departed Los Angeles Airport at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Pentangelo said that during the flight a crew member had seen Perez going through her personal stowed bag -- and reported it to authorities.

A subsequent search by police after the plane landed found Perez in possession of an iPad belonging to a flight attendant, as well as a stolen passport and bank card, which Pentangelo said were found stuffed into the woman's underwear.

Police said a search of Perez also recovered 10 grams of marijuana from her bra.

Police said the flight attendant, identified only as a 27-year-old woman, told them she had seen Perez take her bag and place it under Seat 13A. Perez initially told police she had been given the iPad, Pentangelo said, but a forensic examination verified it belonged to the attendant. A passenger also told police her passport and Bank of America card had gone "missing" during the flight -- and police said both were recovered in the possession of Perez.

Arraignment details were not immediately available.

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