An Iranian man who tried to get a U.S. pilot’s license for passenger jets by using a stolen identity will serve more than two years in prison, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
But Justice Department officials stressed that the investigation revealed no terrorism activity nor links between the Iranian man and terrorist groups.
According to court records, Nader Ali Sabouri Haghighi, 41, stole another pilot’s identity, then used it to try to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration that would have allowed him to pilot commercial jets.
Haghighi also used a credit card he forged under the other pilot’s name to pay for all the fees associated with the certificate.
He’s been wanted since September 2012, when he crashed a plane in Denmark while in possession of a stolen pilot’s certificate. After facing charges in Denmark and Germany, prosecutors said Haghighi returned to Iran. He was spotted in Indonesia, and then in Panama, where he was arrested.
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Nader Ali Sabouri Haghighi, 41, pleaded guilty last November to charges he stole personally identifying information from the FAA's online Airman Services Records System database, which is used by the agency to monitor and regulate persons authorized to fly aircraft.
The Justice Department said in a statement that he used stolen identity information to log into the system, then changed the victim's contact information and profile to his own information. He then requested a replacement Airline Transport Pilot certificate, the FAA's top pilot authorization, and a flight instructor certificate, using a fraudulent credit card to pay for both.
DOJ said it had no evidence he was involved in terrorism. According to the department, Haghighi was looking to fly multi-engine planes for profit.
While in possession of the stolen ATP certificate, in September 2012 Haghighi crashed an airplane in Bornholm, Denmark, where he then faced criminal charges, court records said. He was later arrested in Panama and extradited to the United States last August.
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