Monday, December 12, 2016

Former JetBlue flight attendant to plead guilty to smuggling cocaine at Los Angeles International Airport

Marsha Gay Reynold, pictured left; LAX police tweeted and deleted this photo of cocaine discovered in a flight attendant’s luggage in March 2016.(Credit: Mona S. Edwards / Los Angeles Airport Police Dept.)

A former JetBlue Airways flight attendant who is accused of smuggling nearly 60 pounds of cocaine into the Los Angeles International Airport is expected to plead guilty Monday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles, officials said.

Marsha Gay Reynolds, 31, of Queens, N.Y., was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute after she abandoned two carry-on luggage bags at a security checkpoint on March 18. She had been randomly selected for a search when she kicked off her heels and dashed out of the airport, according to U.S. District Court documents.

Reynolds is a U.S. citizen born in Jamaica who had competed in beauty pageants in the past. She was studying to become a nurse while working for JetBlue, her former attorney said.

According to federal prosecutors, Reynolds was working with an unnamed man who distributed the cocaine to Massachusetts and other locations. Reynolds’ unidentified co-conspirator, who was in the United States illegally, stole the identities of mentally disabled victims and used them to get passports and driver’s licenses.

He would then fly on commercial airlines while carrying cocaine or drug money, according to federal court documents. Reynolds told the man when she was scheduled to work on a flight, so that they could coordinate his drug activity with her flight itinerary, prosecutors said.

As a flight attendant, Reynolds had access to secure sites at airports that generally don’t require baggage screening.

She smuggled drugs and money through those sites and gave them to her co-conspirator, according to prosecutors. He paid Reynolds thousands of dollars for smuggling drugs through the airports, according to documents.

Prosecutors said she deleted text messages from her co-conspirator.

In the March incident, authorities said the unnamed man had traveled from New York to Los Angeles a day earlier, so he could gather cocaine to dispense to East Coast customers.

The next day, Reynolds flew from New York to Los Angeles to meet with him and grab the luggage, which had already been stuffed with 59.39 pounds of cocaine, according to the federal document. Authorities initially reported the cocaine weighed about 68.49 pounds.

Reynolds then provided her badge to a Transportation Security Administration officer at LAX's Terminal 4, according to the complaint. The officer confirmed that she was a pre-screened crew member when the scanner randomly selected her for additional security screening. Airport and airline staff aren’t subject to routine security checks at LAX.

Reynolds became nervous, pulled her cellphone from her purse, and placed a call, federal authorities said. She began speaking in a foreign language. As Reynolds was escorted to a secondary screening area, she dropped her carry-on luggage, kicked off her shoes and ran away.

Reynolds managed to board one of her company's planes the following day and traveled to New York City, according to court documents. The unnamed man also caught a flight to New York.

Days later, she met up with the unnamed man, who provided her with a prepaid cellphone. He later fled from the United States to Jamaica.

Reynolds surrendered on March 23 to Drug Enforcement Administration agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

After she was arrested, family friends as well as her mother offered their homes as a surety for bail. More than a dozen relatives and friends, including a doctor and flight attendant, submitted letters to the court, describing her character and work ethic.

Reynolds faces a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Story and video:

Marsha Gay Reynolds, the Jamaican flight attendant charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine is expected to appear in court shortly.

Thom Mrozek, spokesperson at the United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California, told THE STAR last Friday that Reynolds is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine today.

The United States Government has alleged that Reynolds, whose father is an ex-policeman in Jamaica, conspired  and  agreed with others to  knowingly  and  intentionally possess  with  intent  to  distribute at  least  five  kilograms  of  a  mixture  or substance  containing  a  detectable  amount  of  cocaine in  Los  Angeles  County,  within  the  Central District  of  California,   and  elsewhere.

The United States Government has pointed to several instances, dating back to October 24, 2015, in which they allege that Reynolds actively participated in schemes to distribute cocaine in the US.

Reynolds, a Miss Jamaica runner-up,  was arrested after she attempted to smuggle nearly 70 pounds of cocaine - worth an estimated US$3 million (J$367 million) - through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on March 18.

She reportedly kicked off her Gucci shoes in order to run from the airport.

A co-conspirator, G.B., who has not been charged, was, according to the court documents, not legally in the United States. He is said to have fled to Jamaica after Reynolds was arrested.

The documents said that G.B would steal the identities of mentally disabled individuals to obtain passports and drivers' licenses in their names.

He would then use these documents to fly on commercial airlines with either cocaine or money generated from the sale of cocaine. 

Here are the instances that the US Government said Reynolds participated in the drug trade:

1. On  October 24, 2015,   defendant  REYNOLDS  and unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.,   using  the  name  M.W.,   traveled  together  from JFK  to  LAX  on  JetBlue  flight  number 23  in  connection  with unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug  trafficking  activities.

2. On  November 15, 2015,   defendant  REYNOLDS  and unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.,   using  the  name  M.W.,   traveled together  from  JFK  to  LAX  on  Jet  Blue  flight  number 2023  in connection  with  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug trafficking  activities.

3. On  December 7, 2015,   defendant  REYNOLDS  and  unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.,   using  the  name  M.W.,   traveled  together  from JFK  to  LAX  on  JetBlue  flight  number 623  in  connection  with unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug  trafficking  activities.

4. On  January  17, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  and  unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.,   using  the  name  M.W.,   traveled  together  from JFK  to  LAX  on  JetBlue  flight  number 623  in  connection  with unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug  trafficking  activities.

5. On  February 17, 2016,   unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B. traveled  to  LAX  from  JFK  on American Airlines  flight  number 171 in  connection  with  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug trafficking  activities.

6. On  February  17, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  traveled  to LAX  from  JFK  on  JetBlue  flight  number 523  to  meet  with unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.   in  connection  with  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug  trafficking  activities.

7. On  February 18, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  traveled  from LAX  to  JFK  on American Airlines  flight  number 28,   which  departed LAX  at 10:30  p.m.   and  arrived  at  JFK  at  approximately 6:46  a.m. on  February 19, 2016.

8. On  February 18, 2016,   unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B., using  the  name  M.W.,   traveled  from  LAX  to  JFK  on American Airlines  flight  number 30,   which  departed  LAX  at 11:30  p.m.   and arrived  at  JFK  at  approximately 7:46  a.m.   on  February 19, 2016 in  connection  with  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug trafficking  activities.

9. On March  3, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  and unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.,   using  the  name  M.W.,   traveled  together  from LAX  to  JFX  on American Airlines  flight  number 30  in  connection with  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  drug  trafficking activities.

10. On  March 17, 2016,   unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B., using  the  name  M.W.,   traveled  to  LAX  from  JFX  on American Airlines  flight  number 23  so  that  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B. could  obtain  cocaine  to  distribute  to  customers  on  the  East Coast.

11. On  March 18, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  traveled  to  LAX from  JFK  on JetBlue  flight  number 423  to  meet  with  unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.   in  connection  with  unindicted  co-conspirator

G.B.'s  drug  trafficking  activities.

12. On  March 18, 2016,   unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B. obtained  approximately 26.9.4  kilograms  of  cocaine  from  a  source of  supply  to  distribute  to  customers  on  the  East  Coast.

13. On March 18, 2016,   unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B. secreted  approximately 26.94  kilograms  of  cocaine  into  luggage that  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.   gave  to  defendant  REYNOLDS to  pass  through  a  KCM  access  point  at  LAX.

14. On March 18, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  agreed  to  move unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s  luggage  through  a  KCM  access point  at  LAX,   and  to  provide  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.  with his  luggage  in  a  sterile  area  of  the  airport  where  unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.   would  be  waiting  to  board American Airlines flight  number 10  that  would  be  departing  to  JFK  at 9:30  p.m.

15. On  March  18, 2016,   at  approximately 7:15  p.m., defendant  REYNOLDS  abandoned  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.'s luggage  and  fled  LAX  on  foot  when  she  realized  that  the  luggage that  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.   had  given  to  her  to  move through  the  KCM  access  point  was  about  to  be  searched.

16. On  March 18, 2016,   unindicted  co-conspirator G.B., using  the  false  name  of  M.W.,   fled  from  Los  Angeles  to New  York on American Airlines  flight  number 10  from  LAX  to  JFK.

17. On March 18, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  spoke  with unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.,  who  told  defendant  REYNOLDS  not to  report  to  work at  JetBlue  airlines  the  following  day  to  fly from  LAX  to  JFK,   and  instructed  defendant  REYNOLDS  to make  plans to  flee  the  United  States  to  Jamaica.

18. On  March 19, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  left  Los  Angeles for  New  York  as  a  flight  attendant  on  JetBlue  flight  number 124 traveling  from  LAX  to  JFK.

19. On March 20, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  failed  to  report to  work  at  JFK  airport.

20. On  March 21, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  and  unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.   met  in  New  York,   at  which  time  unindicted co-conspirator  G.B.   instructed  defendant  REYNOLDS  not  to cooperate  with  law  enforcement  officers,   and provided  defendant REYNOLDS  with  an  anonymous  pre-paid  "burner"  telephone  in  an effort  to  prevent  law  enforcement  from  covertly monitoring  their telephone  conversations  regarding  their  drug  distribution activity.

21. On  March 21, 2016,   defendant  REYNOLDS  deleted  her  text message  communications  with  unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.   from her  personal  cell  phone  to  prevent  law  enforcement  from obtaining  evidence  of  their  efforts  to  smuggle  drugs  and  drug proceeds  via  commercial  airline  flights.

22. On March 23, 2016,   unindicted  co-conspirator  G.B.   fled from  the  United  States  to  Jamaica  by using  the  false  name  of J.B.   to  board American Airlines  flight  number 2243  from  JFK  to Miami  and American Airlines  flight  number 1589  from  Miami  to Jamaica.


Beech A36 Bonanza, N776WM: Accident occurred December 12, 2016 in New Smyrna Beach, Volusia County, Florida

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: ERA17CA068
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 12, 2016 in New Smyrna Beach, FL
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N776WM
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During a winter flight, passengers reported that cold air was entering the airplane from the left side of the passenger cabin. Afterwards, the pilot examined the area and discovered that there was a small gap under the emergency exit window that was allowing air to enter the cabin from outside the airplane. He opened the window and examined the rubber seal which was intact. He could not tell though, if it was compressed or thinner than normal. He then closed and latched the window and inspected the latch with a flashlight to make sure it was latched. Since he was going to fly back to his home airport in similar winter conditions on the next flight, He took several rolled-up paper towels and placed them between the trim and the window to try and keep the cold air out, and placed a strip of blue painters tape on the outside of the lower portion of the window to further reduce the entry of cold air. Since it was a beautiful day, he decided to fly the airplane once around the traffic pattern before fueling up for his return flight. After takeoff while on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern at 800 feet, he suddenly heard a "whoosh" behind his seat. Instead of landing, and then checking to see what happened, he instead checked for other traffic, turned on the autopilot, in heading and altitude mode, then reached around behind him to shut and latch the window which had opened 2 to 3 inches. Moments later, after turning back around to his normal seated position, he then heard a loud "pop" and turned around to find that the window had now opened completely. Since he was afraid it would come off the airplane and strike the tail, he reached back once again and pulled the window back down. The pilot advised that he must have "bumped" the autopilot off while he was doing this, since when he looked forward to check for traffic, he noticed that the airplane was approaching the ground. He then banked left and right to determine his location and spot any obstacles, raised the nose, and added power to climb. He then noticed that there were powerlines slightly higher than his altitude directly in front of him, and rather than risk a possible stall close to the ground by pulling back suddenly, he lowered the nose and "put" the airplane on the ground. At this point the airplane was approaching the edge of a field bordered by trees, so he pointed the nose of the airplane between trees. The airplane then struck the trees, and a fire ensued, resulting in substantial damage to the airframe. Examination of the emergency exit window by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the paper towels the pilot inserted in the gap between the window and the airframe were interfering with the window's latching mechanism.

AIRCRAFT: 1983 Beech A36 Bonanza N776WM, s/n: E-2088

Last annual inspection was accomplished on 02/17/16 at Tach 1650.6, Hobbs 1092.5 and AFTT 3320.9.  The current Hobbs reads 1104.6
ENGINE:    Continental IO-550-B, s/n: 675060

Overhauled on 11/25/1996 at ETT 1590.1 and AFTT 1670.33

PROPELLER:   Hartzell PHC-C3YF-1RF/F8068, s/n: EE5585B

The log records a 100 hour inspection on 02/17/16 at 851.3 TSMOH

EQUIPMENT:   Garmin GNS 530, Garmin GTX330, King KY196, King KN53, PS Engineering PMA8000BT, EDM JPI
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:   On 12/12/16, N776WM crash landing in a field

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES:    Damage includes but may not be limited to the following:    
The aircraft was substantially damaged due to the impact and subsequent fire. 

The engine and tail were completely separated from the fuselage. 

Aircraft sprayed by Fire Dept to extinguish the fire.
LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:  Florida Air Recovery, Jacksonville, Florida

Read more here:

A Beech A36 Bonanza crashed Monday afternoon, causing a small brush fire near Venetian Bay in the New Smyrna Beach area, an official said. 

Emergency crews received the call about 3:30 p.m. regarding a plane crashing and a wing catching fire near Airport Road and Pioneer Trail, Volusia County sheriff's spokesman Andrew Gant said.

The pilot escaped with minor injuries to his face, Gant said.

The Beech A36 Bonanza is owned by Lee and Janet Kraus and registered out of Connecticut, records show. The Krauses own a home in nearby Spruce Creek Fly-In.

Officials have not said who was piloting the plane.

Several residents of Venetian Bay made their way to the intersection of Pioneer Trail and Luna Bella Lane to see what was going on in their neighborhood.

"We were sitting in the house and we saw a big truck go by and then (heard) a big boom," Mary Carrow said.

She said she thought the truck may have blown a tire, and it was unsettling to learn what had actually caused the loud noise.

"We always enjoy them," Carrow said of the planes, "but this is pretty scary."

Story,  video and photo gallery:

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A plane crash was reported Monday afternoon in the area of Airport Road and Pioneer Trail near the Venetian Bay subdivision, according to Volusia County fire officials.

A witness saw the plane go down on the side of the road near a wooded area.

The pilot apparently got out of the plane with just a cut on his nose, WESH 2 News has learned.

The crash started a brush fire that was quickly put out.

An investigation is underway.

Story and video:

Auditor: Leath’s uses of Iowa State University aircraft 'enter shades of gray’ ● Leath said Iowa State University looking to sell the Cirrus SR22 he damaged last year

ISU Office of Internal Audit - ISU Flight Service and University Owned Aircraft by Anonymous TNZCj8 on Scribd

Board of regents audit report:

Iowa State University, Cirrus SR22, N176CF:

Steven Leath, president of Iowa State University, and Bruce Rastetter, president of the Iowa Board of Regents, answer questions Monday concerning Leath's use of university aircraft.

The Iowa State University Foundation spent nearly $600,000 upgrading a $2.88 million airplane it purchased two years ago and gifted to the university, according to new information released by the university Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.

The Iowa Board of Regents' chief auditor announced Monday that some uses of aircraft by the president of Iowa State University "enter shades of gray" as to whether they violate regent and university policy.

The board president, however, said that ISU President Steve Leath has admitted that mistakes were made, has reimbursed the university for any questionable flights and deserves the board's continued backing.

"President Leath's acknowledgment that he takes full responsibility for the issues identified in the audit and that he should have been more transparent about the use of the plane reassures this board — and I hope all Iowans — that the president deserves our continued trust and support," Bruce Rastetter, president of the board, said Monday during a meeting in Ankeny.

Since ISU officially confirmed in September that Leath had damaged the university's Cirrus SR22 in a hard landing, additional questions have been raised about Leath's use of that plane, his passenger use of the university's larger King Air and the 2014 purchase of both.

The regents met Monday to discuss their internal auditors' examination of four years' worth of flights taken by Leath and other ISU administrators. The board also met in closed session to evaluate Leath.

“As you are all aware, we do report whenever we determine whether there is a clear violation of university or board policy," Todd Stewart, chief audit executive, told the board Monday. "Many times these are clear-cut, black-and-white determinations. In still other cases, they enter shades of gray. President Leath’s use of university aircraft in at least a few instances falls within this category, while most were entirely business related.”

The regents voted unanimously in October to direct the board's internal auditors to expand their earlier review of travel and equipment policies into a broader independent audit.

Stewart said the report presented Monday did not include any assessment of whether the flights in question violated state law, but the auditors did include several policy recommendations for the board to consider moving forward.

Officials with the Office of the State Auditor are waiting on the results of the regents' internal audit before deciding whether to move forward with any additional audit of their own, Stewart said.

In open session, the regents offered nothing but praise for Leath's public admission of having made mistakes and his willingness to learn from them.

"If we can make something that we regret and you regret be a better thing for the university in the future — glory hallelujah! Because I'll be right there supporting it," said Regent Larry McKibben. "And the fact that you have said what you said today really impresses me. That you are that kind of a leader that will acknowledge (what) all of us ought to do when we have these kinds of circumstances arise."

Regent Subash Sahai, who has been publicly critical of Leath in the past, was absent from Monday's meeting due to illness.

Cloudy skies ahead for ISU Flight Service

Although the regents offered Leath their continued support Monday, the future for ISU Flight Service is uncertain. The board has called for a comprehensive evaluation of whether the service continues to offer the best use of state-owned resources.

"There's no doubt that Flight Services has benefited the university in the past," Leath told reporters after the meeting. "The question actually is: Is there an alternative delivery service that makes sense at this time?" … There is no doubt that in the world we live in — especially in athletics, who are the primary users for recruiting and other things — private aircraft play a hugely important role in large universities."

Regent auditors described Flight Service as a fee-for-service unit that does not depend on external funding to operate. The budget for the service has more than doubled during Leath's time at the university — from $394,000 in fiscal year 2012 to $880,000 in fiscal year 2016.

Leath, who has a pilot's license, said in September that he no longer will fly any state-owned craft. He added Monday that, without regular time in a cockpit as part of his job, he probably will not have enough time in the air to keep his skill level adequate and his certification valid.

With only two pilots left certified to fly the Cirrus, Leath said the university will be looking to sell the aircraft. The plane, which had a price tag of nearly $500,000, was paid for by funds that ISU Foundation officials have said were under the university president's discretion.

Leath's office and the Greater University Fund accounted for 28 percent of the miles flown by ISU Flight Service from January 2012 to October 2016, according to the report. The rest of the miles flown came through the Athletics Department (43 percent), academics (11 percent), the ISU Foundation (8 percent), administration (6 percent) and Flight Service (4 percent).

Questionable flights

Auditors found that Leath had flown on a university-owned aircraft 181 times since 2012 — 72 times on the Cirrus SR22, 65 times on the university’s King Air 350 and 44 times on the King Air 200, which the university owned before buying the 350.

Leath said he recently reimbursed the university for more than $19,000 to cover the costs of several of the flights flagged by the auditors. The check was made out to the ISU Foundation, he said, so that the money eventually could be distributed to the appropriate university accounts.

"I recognize that I used the university planes more frequently than was absolutely necessary and should have been more transparent about my use," he said. "Moving forward, I will be more thoughtful, and I will work to ensure that any time the university planes are used, it is in the very best interest of Iowa State."

Leath said he reimbursed the university for a March 2014 flight in which he picked up and dropped off his brother in Elmira, N.Y., en route to the NCAA basketball tournament. Flight Service had scheduled a refueling stop in Elmira in advance of the trip, but the auditors found the return stop in Elmira would not have been necessary other than to drop off passengers.

“Even though there was no additional cost incurred by the university, I understand why inviting my brother and his partner on the plane could be perceived as inappropriate," he said. "As a result, I have paid for the amount that Flight Service would have attributed to my brother and his partner."

Leath said he is planning to reimburse the university for the multiple training flights ISU's insurance carrier required for his certification on the Cirrus. Although Leath had a pilot's license when he became ISU president, his training on the Cirrus took place during his time at the Ames-based university.

“I see why my use of the Cirrus for training may be viewed as a personal benefit,” he said. “I have since asked Flight Service for a bill for the Cirrus and paid that bill.”

Leath said he also reimbursed the university for two of the seven trips to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for medical visits.

“At the time, I believed it was appropriate because I had to get back to Ames for important university commitments,” Leath said. “Even though this was within policy, I told (Regent Executive Director Bob Donley) that I would feel more comfortable if I paid for those flights myself, which I have done.”

The auditors said that the regents do not have a policy concerning an annual physical for university presidents or whether any associated travel expenses would be covered by the university.

Read more here:

Iowa State University President Steven Leath apologized Monday for using school airplanes for personal flight training and out-of-state medical appointments, announcing he has paid back costs of dozens of flights and would be more careful going forward.

Leath's remorse and decision to reimburse the university more than $19,000 for 55 questionable flights appeared to save his job leading Iowa's largest public university. Leath also pledged to sell the university's Cirrus SR-22 airplane, which he purchased for $498,000 with private donations in 2014 and used extensively for flight training and some trips to his North Carolina home.

The Board of Regents, which governs the school, met for 90 minutes in closed session to consider whether to retain Leath. Afterward, Board President Bruce Rastetter said he was disappointed and that "we can and must do better." But he commended Leath for taking responsibility, saying his corrective actions "eliminate any questions about the personal benefit that he may have received by using the university aircraft."

"The president deserves our continued trust and support," Rastetter said.

An audit released Monday found the university and its private foundation spent millions buying and flying planes during Leath's five-year tenure.

Leath, a pilot, announced that he paid back the university for 52 local flights related to the training, proficiency and certification required for him to be covered under the university's aviation insurance policy. He said he thought it would benefit the university to have him be able to fly himself, but can now see how it would be considered a "personal benefit."

He said he also refunded costs for two trips to Rochester, Minnesota, for medical appointments at Mayo Clinic. He said he took a university plane to save time, but the audit questioned whether the flights were appropriate and said the board should seek a refund if not.

Leath said he also paid back some costs of a 2014 trip in which a plane twice landed in Horseheads, New York, to pick up and drop off his brother and sister-in-law on the way to and from an Iowa State NCAA tournament basketball game. Leath said the stops didn't add costs, but it was inappropriate to invite his brother along. The audit found the plane didn't need to stop to refuel there on the way home, as Leath initially claimed.

Leath apologized for problems detailed in the audit, which found the annual budget of the university's flight services department shot up 125 percent to $880,000 during his tenure.

"I recognized that I used the university planes more frequently than was absolutely necessary, and should have been more transparent about some of the use," Leath said, vowing to be a "better, more conscientious president."

Leath previously said the university was considering shutting down the flight services department, which employs three pilots. In addition to buying the Cirrus for $498,000, the university's foundation spent $3.4 million to acquire and upgrade a larger King Air in 2014 used for athletic recruiting and fundraising.

The audit revealed the university spent $35,000 for Leath to take charter flights on private planes, including two flights home from business trips when commercial flights were cancelled.

The board's chief auditor, Todd Stewart, said some of Leath's flights fall into a gray area where it's not clear whether they would be allowed by university policy. He said the university should approve a policy spelling out clearly when it is appropriate to use a university plane or private charter.

Before Monday, Leath had already reimbursed $17,500 for damage resulting from a hard landing in the Cirrus, and $4,600 for four trips to North Carolina that had major personal components to them. Leath has argued that those trips were justified because he performed some university meetings during each. But the audit found that one meeting was cancelled for an August trip to North Carolina.

The board ordered the audit in October after The Associated Press revealed that Leath made the hard landing in Illinois while flying home from a North Carolina vacation. Leath didn't inform the university's risk management office about the landing as required by policy, and that office wasn't involved in the decision to pay for repairs rather than file an insurance claim, Stewart said.


Timeline of Events in Iowa State President's Planes Scandal

 The governing board of Iowa's public universities is expected to decide Monday whether to take action against Iowa State University's president for his use of school planes. The Board of Regents will hold a special meeting in which it will get the summary of an audit of Steven Leath's use of the planes during his five years as president. It is then expected to go into closed session to review Leath's job performance.

Here is a timeline of key events:

— Jan. 1, 2012: Leath, a former University of North Carolina System vice president, starts as president of Iowa State University. A pilot and flight enthusiast, he makes quick use of a university fleet that consists of a 1977 King Air and a small 1978 four-seat Piper plane.

— 2012-mid-2014: Leath flies the Piper around the state to official meetings and travels in the King Air flown by the university's pilots. On five occasions, the university also pays to rent a newer, faster 2004 Cirrus SR-22 for Leath to fly to business meetings.

— March 2014: The university's King Air stops in Horseheads, New York, and picks up Leath's brother and sister-in-law on the way to watch Iowa State compete in the NCAA basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden. The plane drops them off afterward. Leath later contends university pilots made the decision to stop there both times to refuel.

— Spring 2014: The university's foundation uses donations to buy a 2002 King Air for $2.8 million and then spends $600,000 installing upgrades to its safety, electronics and entertainment systems.

— Summer 2014: Leath uses his discretion with unrestricted private donations to buy a 2011 Cirrus SR-22 for $498,000. As part of the deal, the university trades in the Piper for $28,000.

— August 2014: Leath damages a private plane while making a hard landing. This comes to light months later when he has to disclose it as a loss on a university aviation insurance application.

— October 2014 through January 2015: Leath continues to train on the Cirrus and earns an instrument rating, which allows him to fly by himself in all conditions. His flight instructor is Jim Kurtenbach, who offers his services free of charge.

— November 2014: The university announces that Kurtenbach, a former Republican lawmaker and longtime university professor and administrator, has been named its chief information officer, cancelling a nationwide search that had been planned.

— July 2015: Leath damages both wings on the university's Cirrus in a hard landing at the airport in Bloomington, Illinois. He and his wife had flown to their mountain home in Jefferson, North Carolina, for an 11-day vacation, and were returning to Ames at the time. The university covers the $14,000 in damage and sends the King Air to pick up the couple. Leath does not tell the Iowa Board of Regents about the incident.

— August 2015: The Board of Regents votes to extend Leath's contract through June 2020. The contract gives Leath $1,500 per month for a car allowance but doesn't mention what access he'll have to the school's planes.

— Fall 2015: Leath tells the board's president, Bruce Rastetter, about the hard landing, which resulted in him having to take a Federal Aviation Administration check ride to keep his license. Rastetter doesn't share this with the full board.

— September 2016: The Associated Press breaks the news about Leath's hard landing in Illinois. Leath says he will repay the university $17,500 for accident-related costs and stop flying himself. Leath acknowledges that he had taken the Cirrus on at least four trips that mixed business and personal uses, and that he previously reimbursed the university $4,600 for doing so.

— September 2016: The university removes an online database that listed the names of passengers, costs and destinations of flights taken through Iowa State's flight services program. Several of the flights had taken Leath to and from the North Carolina town where he owns a home. Passengers had included Leath's best friend, Bill Dougherty, and professional bow hunter John Dudley.

— October 2016: The Board of Regents orders an audit into every flight Leath and others have taken on university planes during his presidency. Rastetter says that several trips appear to be questionable.

— December 2016: The board receives the results of the audit and schedules a special meeting to discuss Leath's performance.


Internal audit released, meeting held on Leath plane usage

Iowa State President Steven Leath said during a special meeting Monday afternoon that he was "terribly sorry" and that "he should have done things differently" in reference to his university plane usage.

The special meeting, held by the Iowa Board of Regents, was to review and assess an internal audit of ISU Flight Services, conducted by Chief Audit Executive Todd Stewart. 

The meeting comes after months of questions regarding Leath's plane usage, after it was revealed in September that the university president was involved in a hard landing in July 2015 with ISU's Cirrus SR22 single-engine plane.

After further investigations, it was also revealed that Leath used the two university planes, both the Cirrus and a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air, for mixed use of personal and business.

One of these trips included a stop in Elmira, New York to pick up Leath's brother Ken and sister-in-law while on the way to watch the Iowa State men's basketball team play Connecticut in 2014. 

The plane's reason for stopping was to refuel, which the internal audit report found to be accurate, and that the stop was planned well before the flight took off.

However, a return stop in Elmira would not have been necessary other than to drop off passengers, according to the audit report.

During a prepared statement by Leath at the regents meeting, he said that while he "did not violate any policies or break any laws," he realizes that it is not enough to simply apologize and that he did use the university planes more often than he absolutely had to.

According to audit report findings, the president's office and the greater university fund used the Cirrus SR22 72 out of the 76 trips recorded. The president's office used the King Air 200 41 out of the 178 trips recorded and the King Air 350 79 of the 302 trips recorded.

In total, the president's office and greater university fund used the three university planes 192 out of the 556 flights logged since Leath's arrival at Iowa State. 

The flight records from the Piper Warrior were unavailable as ISU Flight services did not retain any flight records.

Six auditors, including Stewart, compiled the audit report, where they reviewed the sale of the King Air 200, flight records, insurance policies, Cirrus funding, the King Air 350 billing and rate calculation and university-owned aircraft policy, among other things. 

In the audit report, Stewart and his team offered recommendations to the Regents moving forward. 

"[The] purpose is to stick to the facts without making judgements to the appropriateness to the facts," Stewart said.

He also noted to the Board that the cooperation from Iowa State was good and they were able to provide all the information when asked. However, Stewart mentioned to the regents that several instance of Leath's plane usage entered "shades of gray."

"Many times these are clear-cut, black-and-white determinations, in still other cases, they enter shades of gray. President Leath’s use of university aircraft in at least a few instances fall within this category, while most were entirely business related," he said.

Other highlights from the 12-page audit report include information regarding Leath's travel to Rochester, Minnesota seven times between May 2013 and August 2016. 

On three occasions, Leath said the sole purpose of the trip was a medical appointment, but the use of ISU Flight Services was necessary for him to return to campus to meet university obligations.

Noted in the report, Leath's employment contract "does not address the necessity or requirement for an annual physical, nor does it address whether any associated travel expenses would be covered by the university for medical appointments."

Leath has also come under fire recently on whether or not he violated the university’s firearms and weapons policy. Leath told the regents that he fully complied with the guidelines, however, including a full inspection by the police chief.

Iowa State’s weapons policy prohibits “the unauthorized transportation, use or storage of any firearms, weapons and/or explosives,” but does allow for a request to be submitted to allow for the transportation of weapons. The request is submitted in writing and approved by either The Office of Risk Management or The Department of Public Safety.

Following nearly 40 minutes of presentation by Stewart and a statement by Leath, the Board moved into closed session to evaluate Leath. 

"I take seriously my responsibility to adhere to university policy," Leath said.

Leath also announced during the special meeting that due to the fact that one of the three university pilot's is retiring, the university will be selling the Cirrus SR22. Leath announced in September that he will no longer fly university-owned aircraft.

"I learned a great deal from this experience and I believe it will make me a much better president and a much more conscientious president," Leath said.

During the open session portion of the meeting, the regents expressed gratitude for Leath, specifically Regent Larry McKibben who said, "If we can make something that we regret and you regret be a better thing for the university in the future — glory hallelujah! Because I'll be right there supporting it."

Following the closed session, the Board reconvened and in a prepared statement, said "we have all learned from this, and we must continue to move forward to ensure the success of the institution is ensured."

The regents decided that they believe the audit and policy review confirmed that "while the [plane] use did not violate existing board policy, we agree with President Leath that we can and must do better."

The regents said Board staff and university administrators, moving forward, will work to create clearer policies, and will review if ISU's Flight Services are in the best interest of the university through a comprehensive review currently in progress.

While the regents noted that Leath should have been "more transparent," the audit should put to rest any questions regarding the university president's aircraft usage.


Quest Kodiak 100, registered to Lease Air LLC, operated by Aerowest Aviation dba Redtail Air, N772RT: Fatal accident occurred December 12, 2016 near Canyonlands Field Airport (KCNY), Moab, Grand County, Utah

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA SALT LAKE CITY FSDO-07

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - ;National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA035
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, December 12, 2016 in Moab, UT
Aircraft: QUEST AIRCRAFT COMPANY LLC KODIAC 100, registration: N772RT
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 12, 2016, about 0537 mountain standard time, a Quest Kodiac, N772RT, impacted powerlines shortly after takeoff from the Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY), Moab, Utah. The pilot (sole occupant) was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Lease Air LLC, and was operated by Aerowest Aviation doing business as Redtail Air, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 relocation flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and a visual flight rules company flight plan was filed. The flight originated from CNY at about 0536 and was destined for Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Salt Lake City, Utah.

A security camera video revealed the airplane took off uneventfully, the pilot made a right turn and it appeared as if the airplane started to descend slightly. Suddenly the airplane entered a rapid descent before it contacted powerlines and impacted the ground.

At 0553, the weather at CNY was reported as wind from 330 at 4 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 1 degrees C, dewpoint -2 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.59 inches of mercury. 

The airplane has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

MOAB — Police have released the name of a pilot killed in a plane crash Monday near the Canyonlands Field Airport. 

Donald Kim Ruble, 65, of Moab, was killed after the Quest Kodiak 100 aircraft he was flying caught a high transmission power line approximately 1 mile southwest of the airport and crashed shortly before 6 a.m. Monday, the Grand County Sheriff's Office said.

The plane was operated by Red Tail Aviation, according to police. Grand County sheriff's spokesman Rick Bailey said Ruble was a contracted pilot for a company that moves freight. The plane was headed to Green River with a final destination of Salt Lake City, Bailey said.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash. 

Authorities say a man has died after a small plane he was flying hit an electricity line near the tourist town of Moab, Utah.

Grand County Sheriff's spokesman Rick Bailey said the crash occurred early Monday morning shortly after the pilot took off from the Canyonlands Field Airport near Moab. Bailey says the man was the only one aboard the single-engine plane.

Bailey says the man was a contracted pilot for a company that moves freight. It was in route to Green River with a final planned destination of Salt Lake City. He says they don't know yet if the plane was empty or carrying cargo.

The man has not yet been identified. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

Moab is a popular tourist destination in southern Utah's red rock country located about 225 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

Story and comments:

GRAND COUNTY, Utah, Dec. 12, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — One man has died in a small plane crash near Moab Monday morning.

A single-engine Quest Kodiak 100 plane hit a high-powered electric line at 5:48 a.m., according to Grand County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Rick Bailey.

The plane then went down and caught fire on impact with the ground, Bailey said. The pilot, the only person on board, died as a result of the accident.

Bailey said the plane, which is owned by Redtail Aviation, was contracted by UPS. The plane took off from Canyonlands Field Airport and was scheduled to make a stop in Price before landing in Salt Lake City. The crash occurred about a mile southwest of Canyonlands Field Airport, about 20 miles northwest of Moab.

The body of the victim has been transported to the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner for identification. The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of his family.


MOAB — A man was killed in a plane crash near Moab early Monday morning.

The single-engine plane hit a high tension power line shortly after takeoff from the Canyonlands Field Airport around 5:45 a.m., according to Grand County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Rick Bailey. The plane went down about a mile from the airport and the pilot died on impact, Bailey said. The pilot was the only person aboard the plane.

The man was a contracted pilot for a company that moves freight, Bailey said. It was en route to Green River with a final planned destination of Salt Lake City. Bailey said investigators don't know yet if the plane was empty or carrying cargo.

The plane is owned by Redtail Aviation, Bailey said. The victim has not yet been identified, pending family notification.

Story and video:

MOAB — Authorities say a man has died after a small plane he was flying hit an electricity line near the tourist town of Moab.

Grand County sheriff's spokesman Rick Bailey said the crash occurred early Monday morning shortly after the pilot took off from the Canyonlands Field Airport near Moab. Bailey says the man was the only one aboard the single-engine plane.

Bailey says the man was a contracted pilot for a company that moves freight. It was in route to Green River with a final planned destination of Salt Lake City. He says they don't know yet if the plane was empty or carrying cargo.

The man has not yet been identified. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.