HELICOPTER BUSINESS OWNER AND HIS COMPANY FOUND GUILTY OF MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS TO THE FAA
November 10, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John W. Long, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, announced that defendant James Howard, Jr., and his company Pompano Helicopters, Inc. (“Pompano Helicopters”), were found guilty by a jury in West Palm Beach, on November 5, 2009, of making false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1001 and 2. Defendant Pompano Helicopters was also found guilty of one count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. Howard remains on bond pending sentencing. At sentencing, Howard faces up to five years’ imprisonment, a fine, and mandatory restitution.
According to the Indictment and evidence presented at trial, Pompano Helicopters was a Florida corporation that provided flight instruction to students and supplied television stations and news networks with helicopters. News Copters of America, Inc. (“News Copters”) provided helicopters and helicopter pilots for use in news gathering and reporting, motion picture and aerial photography and cinematography. Defendant Howard was the owner and president of both Pompano Helicopters and News Copters.
In 2000, Pompano Helicopters borrowed more than $4 million from Textron Financial Corporation (“Textron”) and granted Textron a security interest in nine of its helicopters. The security agreement was filed with the Civil Aircraft Registry at the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”). Howard personally guaranteed the loan. In 2002, Howard and Pompano Helicopters sold one of the nine helicopters without Textron’s knowledge. Moreover, Howard kept the proceeds of the sale for his own use. Howard used News Copters to funnel the money and to conceal the fact that the buyer had paid Howard directly for the helicopter. In addition, Howard filed a false release and disclaimer with the FAA, purporting to release Textron’s interest in the one helicopter that had been sold. The FAA relied on this false information and released the helicopter from the FAA’s Civil Aircraft Registry.
Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Aviation Administration. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lois Foster-Steers and Ryan O’Quinn.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
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