Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
LOS ANGELES – An Irvine man was arrested this morning on federal charges of illegally flying a twin-engine Falcon 10 turbojet airplane with passengers onboard without having a valid pilot’s license.
Arnold Gerald Leto III, 36, was charged in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District court with operating an aircraft in air transportation without a valid airman’s certificate.
The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Leto’s pilot’s license was revoked earlier this year, he operated the Falcon without having the required co-pilot, and he was never certified to fly this type of aircraft.
Leto is scheduled to be arraigned on the felony offense this afternoon in United States District Court.
Leto is charged will illegally flying the Falcon 10 from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 8. Leto allegedly operated the aircraft with approximately eight passengers on board.
“Federal regulations governing the operation of aircraft and other common carriers are designed to protect the traveling public,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The investigation into Mr. Leto shows that he flagrantly violated these rules – and continued to do so after the FAA took action to take him out of the air. A swift and thorough investigation by the Department of Transportation has now improved the safety of all air travelers.”
According to the complaint, the aircraft that Leo piloted alone is a complex aircraft that requires two pilots to operate. Furthermore, Leto’s defendant’s pilot certificate – which he failed to surrender after it was revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in January – did not have a turbojet-type rating that would authorize him to fly that airplane.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The charge alleged in the complaint carries a statutory maximum penalty of three years federal prison.
This case was investigated by the Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, with assistance by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“This case that alleges operating an aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate is a clear signal that those who would seek to circumvent or disregard transportation-related laws and regulations will face serious repercussions,” said William Swallow, regional Special Agent-In-Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General. “Our agents will continue to work with federal, state, and local authorities to ensure safety for the traveling public.”
Original article can be found here: https://www.justice.gov
Federal authorities have arrested and charged an Irvine man who flew a private jet with eight passengers after his pilot’s license had been revoked.
On April 8, Arnold Gerald Leto III, 36, flew a twin-engine Falcon 10 turbojet from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas, said federal prosecutor Mark Williams.
His pilot’s license was revoked in January for unknown reasons and was not certified to fly the turbojet.
“Even if he had his license, it still did not authorize him to operate the twin turbojet plane,” he said.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires pilots to be rated and trained for that plane (Falcon 10),” Williams said. “He was taking a large amount of passengers and charging significant amounts of money to do so.”
Prosecutors believe Leto also flew the plane without a co-pilot, as required under FAA regulations.
Leto is the president of Irvine-based Aviation Financial Services Inc. and flies private jets for a living, Williams said.
He could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities believe Leto has operated other flights since having his license revoked, Williams said.
“We have evidence of him flying more than once without a valid license,” Williams said.
He faces up to three years in federal prison.
A former Newport Beach pilot was charged in January of flying two Alaska Airlines flights in 2014 while intoxicated.
On June, 20, 2014, David Arntson, 60, was randomly tested minutes after his flight from Portland, Ore., to John Wayne Airport. His blood alcohol concentration level read 0.142 percent.
He quit his job before he could be fired. His case is still pending.
Original article can be found here: http://www.ocregister.com