The indictment reads in part as follows: … defendants and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, knowingly and with intent to defraud; combined, conspired, and agreed with each other, in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce, to: (a) falsify and conceal material facts concerning aircraft parts; (b) make materially fraudulent representations concerning aircraft parts; (c) make and use any materially false writings; entries; certifications; documents; records; data plates; labels; and electronic communications concerning aircraft parts; and (d) export from and import and introduce into the United States, sell, trade, install on and in any aircraft; aircraft parts using and by means of fraudulent representations, documents, records, labels, certificates, data plates, and electronic communications, all in violation of Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 38(a).
Records, 8130 forms, data plates
We all should be familiar with the usual charges regarding falsifying records, and concealing material facts involving the use of unapproved parts in repairs and overhauls. Falsified 8130s added to the charges along with internal records, work orders, and other paperwork. The paper trail is what nails down the charges. Furthermore, not completing required testing of repaired components adds to the charges. The station manuals set out in detail all of the required testing to be done on each part’s item. Failure to follow its own company operations manuals adds to the laundry list of violations. (See FAR 145.109, 145.207, 145.211, 43.9, 43.12, and 43.13.)
Furthermore, swapping part data plates was common practice according to the indictment and the technicians were well aware of the practice. (Indeed, many would say that it is still common practice in many parts of the repair industry.)
The guts of the complaint
The gist of the indictment consists in these six men being charged with conspiring to use and using, unapproved parts in their repairs and falsely certifying that the FAA approved their use. They are alleged to have used cheaper and inferior parts in place of approved parts.
There are two allegations of using parts that were fabricated at the repair facility … hence we call this the paper clip caper …
To show how detailed the charges are, here is an excerpt from the indictment: “… on or about Sept. 12, 2007, the defendant … instructed a technician to fabricate an end bell locator pin from a drill bit, and install it on a windshield wiper motor … on or about Sept. 13, 2007, the defendant … fabricated an end bell locator pin from a paper clip, and installed it on a windshield wiper motor …”
These parts were made by the repair person from scratch and therefore, the FAA concludes that they are unapproved and illegal to use in the repair of aircraft accessories. It should be noted at this point however that the U.S. Attorney has said that there have been no crashes or in-flight emergencies or any incidents because of the repairs … (but) … that the charged persons needlessly took risks with the safety of the persons who used aircraft that they had repaired … (actually the component part or accessory that they had repaired).
It should also be noted that there is an approval process wherein the repair station can fabricate and manufacture parts to be used in repairs, but only with the approval of the FAA; this process was not followed in this case apparently.
Finally, the government threw in and fired its final big gun and that is the forfeiture allegation as follows … “upon conviction of one or more of the offenses alleged … defendants … shall forfeit to the United States … all property which constitutes or is derived from proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of such violations and any property used, or intended to be used, in any manner, to commit or facilitate the commission of such violations.”
The forfeiture allegation against these defendants is the coup de grace in regard to sanctions because it is designed to strip them of all proceeds or property that may be deemed acquired as a result of the alleged actions. This of course includes real property as well as personal property, traceable to the violations. This is a very powerful weapon in the hands of the government and is derived primarily from the drug enforcement actions that generate huge amounts of cash and property.
These men charged will have a long and painful trip through the federal criminal trial procedure but may be forced to plead to the charges before a trial can be reached. It will be expensive for them, each must have a lawyer or have one appointed for him. There will be no quick resolution for them. Their lawyers will have to use all of their training and experience to bring about any kind of a acceptable result for these men, who will also lose all of their FAA certificates as the process continues.
Prosecutors allege the faulty repairs happened on small, private aircraft between October 2006 and February 2008.
The FAA alleges that Hillsboro mechanics used incorrect parts and an unqualified individual to make repairs to a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter.
ValuJet Postscript Give a statement...go to jail By Stephen P. Prentice October 1999 Stephen P. Prentice is an attorney whose practice involves FAA-NTSB issues. He has an...