Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: Man Guilty of Falsifying Airplane Inspection Records

A Lancaster County man, Joel Stout of Elizabethtown, pleaded guilty today to participating in a fraud conspiracy involving the unauthorized certification of inspections of aircraft at the Flying Tigers, Inc., a former airplane mechanical repair business in Marietta, PA.  Stout’s father, Jay Stout, the president of Flying Tigers, Inc., and Howard Gunter, a retired FAA examiner, are also charged in the scheme which involved aircraft parts and inspections.  Stout pleaded guilty to all seven counts of conspiracy and mail fraud charged.

Between October 2006 and October 2009, Joel Stout was employed as a Flying Tigers’ airplane mechanic.  His inspection authority certification had expired on March 31, 2006.  Flying Tigers performed annual inspections on aircraft, despite the absence of a certified mechanic with inspection authority.  In order to conceal the absence of an IA, Flying Tigers, Joel Stout and his conspirators: did not fill out the aircraft and engine log books, leaving no written record of the inspections; forged the signature of a certified mechanic as having performed inspections; arranged for Howard Gunter to sign off annual inspections despite the fact that he did not perform the inspections; or placed their own names in the log books as the authorized individual certifying the inspection.  The fraud also included billing customers for the inspections that were not properly certified.  Stout also committed mail and wire fraud by mailing invoices for the fraudulently performed inspections and receiving payments from customers.

U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Bartle, III, scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 24, 2013.  Stout faces a possible statutory sentence of 20 years in prison for each mail fraud count and 5 years in prison for the conspiracy, a fine of up to $1.75 million, mandatory restitution and supervised release.


Lancaster County aircraft maintenance firm principal pleads guilty in federal fraud case 

A principal in a now-closed Lancaster County aircraft maintenance firm could land in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to federal mail fraud and conspiracy charges.

Joel Stout, 32, of the Marietta-based Flying Tigers Inc. is accused of doing work on private aircraft without proper certifications and then conspiring to falsify maintenance and inspection records.

 His father, Jay Stout, 53, the company president, and Howard Gunter, a former Federal Aviation Administration examiner, also are charged in the alleged scam.

Federal investigators claim the Stouts and Gunter conducted the fraud from 2006 to 2009 at the Flying Tigers headquarters at the private Donegal Springs Airpark. They were indicted in August.

According to the indictment, Jay Stout and Joel Stout performed work on aircraft and did inspections without being certified. The Stouts forged the name of a certified aircraft mechanic in some instances and in other cases Gunter signed off on inspections he didn't perform, investigators said.

When the FAA began investigating, the Stouts destroyed or altered maintenance log books for aircraft to try to cover up the fraud, the indictment alleges. Some of the original log books with incriminating entries were recovered during a May 2008 search of Joel Stout's home, investigators said.

They said Flying Tigers used the mail to bill and receive payment for the uncertified work.

Joel Stout pleaded guilty before U.S. Eastern District Judge Harvey Bartle III to six counts of mail fraud and one charge of conspiring to commit fraud concerning aircraft parts and mail and wire fraud.

He has no plea deal, records show. His plea documents indicate he could face up to 125 years in prison and $1.75 million in fines. Bartle has scheduled his sentencing for June.

Jay Stout and Gunter are scheduled for trial in May. Bartle recently rejected a plea to drop the case against the 77-year-old Gunter, who sought the dismissal due to poor health.  

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