Aditya Udai Singh, a former graduate student at Oklahoma State University, was arrested Saturday after allegedly hiding in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for three months. He was discovered by two United Airlines employees who reported him to authorities.
He has been charged with felony criminal trespass in a restricted area of the airport and misdemeanor theft of less than $500.
Singh, 36, had allegedly lived undetected in Terminal 2 near gate F12, where he had made a home between the Cinnabon shop and a shoe shine stand, CBSN Chicago reported.
Prosecutors said he had been in the airport since arriving from Los Angeles on Oct. 19.
Passengers passing through the airport had periodically given him food, Singh told authorities.
During a hearing Sunday, Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Hagerty told the judge Singh had said he was afraid to fly back home to the Los Angeles area because of fears about COVID-19.
His reason for being in Chicago is unknown at this time, and it’s not known if he has any connection to the Chicago area, according to his attorney.
Singh was found wearing an identification badge that an operations manager at the airport had reported missing Oct. 26.
He claims to have found the badge.
Prosecutors said it was unclear whether he had ever accessed employee-only security areas, CBSN reported.
Singh, who pursued a Master's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration and taught undergraduate Marketing and International Business classes at OSU, was part of a Food Studies Program formed on the OSU campus in 2017 to encourage multidisciplinary solutions to food problems.
He started a program to take untouched food left over from Taylor’s Restaurant on the OSU campus to the Mission of Hope homeless shelter.
He appears to have relocated to California in 2019 and told authorities that lately he has been unemployed.
Singh does not have a criminal record, Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood told the court.
He is currently being held in the Cook County Jail, but is eligible for release if he can pay $1,000 of the $10,000 cash bond set by Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz. If released, he would be banned from the airport and electronic monitoring would be required.
Although he is not suspected to have done anything harmful while hiding in the terminal for 88 nights, authorities view it as a major security breach and are taking the case seriously.
“The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred,” the judge said. “Being in a secured part of the airport under a fake ID badge allegedly, based upon the need for airports to be absolutely secure so that people feel safe to travel, I do find those alleged actions do make him a danger to the community."
Singh is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 27.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.