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Will Northwest's Wilson Be Weeded Out?

In Business This Week


The slogan at Northwest Airlines, "Some people really know how to fly," has taken on an unwelcome double meaning for Co-Chairman Gary L. Wilson. On Aug. 2, while trying to board a Northwest flight after a rafting vacation, Wilson, 54, was caught with 2.7 grams of marijuana and a pipe in his carry-on bag at a checkpoint in Boise, Idaho.

Wilson was issued a misdemeanor citation and allowed to continue his trip. But he has been relieved of all board duties at Northwest pending resolution of a court case on the infraction, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. His Boise attorney issued a statement saying that Wilson "sincerely regrets any embarrassment this incident may cause his friends and family."

Despite the tiny amount of marijuana involved, industry watchers wonder if he can resume any role at Northwest, given the airline's strict drug policies for employees. Wilson's future as a director at squeaky-clean Walt Disney could be in question, too. A Disney spokesman wouldn't comment. Wilson, who had bypass surgery in 1992, was Al Checchi's partner in the 1989 Northwest buyout.EDITED BY THANE PETERSON Susan Chandler

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