Friday, April 27, 2018

Indictment alleges no-license flight into Rutland–Southern Vermont Regional Airport (KRUT)

BURLINGTON — A convicted drug smuggler, who officials say made a midnight flight in a private airplane into the closed Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport as federal drug agents watched,  has been indicted on a charge of flying without a license.

Angelo P. Efthimiatos, 48, of Sudbury, is charged with operating a Piper Aircraft on April 9-10 without an approved pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration.


No drugs or large amounts of currency were found in the single-engine plane, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, which had three agents monitoring the airport that night.


The DEA had been tipped the Rutland County man might be arriving by plane on April 9 at the airport in North Clarendon, Special Agent Brandon Hope said in court papers.


Efthimiatos, who lives on Vermont 30, is due to be arraigned on Friday morning in U.S. District Court in Burlington.


Efthimiatos’ license to fly was revoked for life in July 2014 following two drug convictions in Iowa that involved him using a small aircraft to transport a large load of drugs between California and the East Coast, according to the FAA.


Efthimiatos, formerly of Danbury, Connecticut, told investigators it was his fourth drug-related cross-country smuggling trip, records show.


The recent DEA investigation showed a single-engine aircraft had flown between Vermont and Nantucket, Massachusetts among other locations.


A review of FAA records by the Rutland Herald shows the airplane’s registered owner is Robert Walsh of Nantucket. The records also lists Robert A. Brait and Stephen G. Kiarsis under “other owners’ names” for the plane manufactured in 1976.


The indictment reports that between January and March of this year, at least four times Efthimiatos purchased fuel for an aircraft in preparation for a flight or after landing at the Rutland airport.  The fuel purchases were for a Piper aircraft with the same tail number that was flown into Rutland the night Efthimiatos was arrested, records show.


The indictment also said that same plane made “multiple trips of short duration, often traveling late at night between small airports” like Newport State Airport in Rhode Island, Nantucket Airport and Rutland airport after each of them was closed.


“Angelo Efthimiatos acted as a pilot for at least some of these trips,” the indictment said.


Efthimiatos served about five years in federal prison for drug conspiracy and was placed under federal supervision last April for five years, officials said. They said his supervised release was transferred to Vermont, where his wife is from and her parents still reside.


Efthimiatos and his younger brother, Michael Efthimiatos, were both convicted in Federal Court in  Iowa in connection with a conspiracy to transport large amounts of marijuana from California to the east coast, records show.


Angelo Efthimiatos was arrested after 55 pounds of high-grade marijuana were recovered in a plane he was flying from California to the East Coast in February 2013, records show.


It was valued at about $220,000, court records show. The brothers forfeited two planes in connection with the case.


Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.rutlandherald.com 


April 10, 2018

BURLINGTON — A convicted drug smuggler, who officials say flew a private airplane into the closed Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport at about 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, is charged with flying without a license.

Angelo P. Efthimiatos, 48, of Sudbury is accused of operating a Piper Aircraft without a pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration. He made his initial court appearance Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Burlington, where the charge and his rights were explained.

He was not yet asked to enter a plea. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for April 20.

No drugs or large amounts of currency were found in the plane, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, which had the airport under surveillance during the night.

The DEA had received information that the Rutland County man might arrive by plane Monday night at the airport in North Clarendon, according to the criminal complaint filed in Burlington.

Three task force investigators were waiting for Efthimiatos at the airport, a DEA agent said Tuesday.

Efthimiatos’ license to fly was revoked for life in 2014 following two drug convictions in Iowa that involved him using a small aircraft to transport a large load of drugs between California and the East Coast, according to the FAA.  He admitted that it was his fourth drug-related cross-country smuggling trip, records show.

The recent investigation showed a single-engine aircraft had flown between Vermont and Nantucket, Massachusetts, among other locations.

“Investigators observed that though there were some flights occurring during daylight hours, there were multiple that were late at night, and appearing to be short in duration,” DEA Special Agent Brandon Hope said in a court affidavit.

There was one late-night flight that left Rutland about 10:30 p.m. and went to the Newport State Airport in Rhode Island an hour later, Hope said. It returned to Rutland about 1 a.m. the following morning.

Investigators say they found at least four occasions when Efthimiatos made major purchases of plane fuel either just before taking off, or right after landing, Hope wrote.

Efthimiatos completed a federal prison sentence of nearly five years for drug conspiracy April 7, 2017, and was placed under federal supervision for five years, officials said.  They said his supervised release was transferred to Vermont, where his wife is from.

Efthimiatos, who is to remain on federal supervised release until 2020, is restricted to Vermont, officials said.

The flight between Rutland and Nantucket and back came just a few hours after a federal probation officer had visited Efthimiatos at his home on Route 30 in Sudbury, a tiny town of about 570, just west of Brandon, officials said.

Federal Magistrate John M. Conroy agreed to a request by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that Efthimiatos be detained pending trial because he is a risk to flee.  Conroy noted Efthimiatos has a history of failing to follow directions from courts, the probation office and the Federal Aviation Administration. He questioned his “critical thinking.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia A.P. Cowles noted Efthimiatos had told the court he is employed as a mechanic by Sunrise Aviation, but that was a blatant disregard after being directed not to have a job in aviation. She said his criminal record also shows two violations of probation and a failure to appear in court.

Federal Public Defender Michael Desautels had argued Efthimiatos was needed at home because his wife, Nancy Dellamonte, is disabled and they have an 8-year-old daughter. Desautels tried to show Efthimiatos cooperated when confronted by the DEA.

Efthimiatos, formerly of Danbury, Connecticut, and his younger brother Michael Efthimiatos were both convicted in federal court in Iowa in connection with a conspiracy to transport large amounts of marijuana from California to the East Coast, records show.

Angelo Efthimiatos was arrested after 55 pounds of high-grade marijuana worth about $220,000 were found in a plane he was flying from California to the East Coast, records show. The brothers forfeited two planes in connection with the case.

Angelo Efthimiatos touched down in Washington, Iowa, Municipal Airport in February 2013 for maintenance.  The Department of Homeland Security in California, which combats drug smuggling, was monitoring the flight, and asked local police to inspect his pilot’s license and other aircraft documents, records show.

He was unable to produce the records, but a drug-sniffing dog alerted police and the 55 pounds of marijuana was found in duffel bags, court records show.

Following Efthimiatos’ guilty plea, the FAA issued an order July 1, 2014 revoking his pilot license.  Efthimiatos, through his wife, filed an appeal, but it was denied, Special Agent Hope said in a court affidavit. Efthimiatos failed to surrender the paper copy of his license, Hope said.

Efthimiatos provided a copy of his pilot license and his Vermont driver’s license when investigators confronted him after landing at the North Clarendon airport. He was walking toward a silver Ford vehicle registered to his wife, Hope said.

Original article can be found here ➤  https://www.rutlandherald.com

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