An Irvine man was indicted Thursday on charges of illegally flying private jets without having a valid pilot’s license.
A federal grand jury returned the indictment against Arnold Gerald Leto III on two counts of piloting a plane without a license, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Leto was accused of flying a Cessna Citation turbojet from Santa Monica to Phoenix on Jan. 30, 2015, and a Falcon 10 turbojet with eight passengers aboard from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas last April 8, prosecutors said.
An affidavit filed in connection with the case alleges that the 36-year- old Leto — whose pilot license was revoked earlier this year — operated the Falcon without having the required co-pilot, and was not certified to fly that type of aircraft.
Leto faces up to six years in federal prison if convicted as charged, federal prosecutors said.
“Federal regulations governing the operation of aircraft and other common carriers are designed to protect the traveling public,” said U.S. 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.”
Prosecutors contend that the Falcon Leo piloted alone is a complex plane that requires two pilots to operate.
Furthermore, Leto’s pilot certificate — which he failed to surrender after it was revoked in January by the Federal Aviation Administration — did not have a turbojet-type rating that would authorize him to fly that airplane, authorities said.
— Wire reports
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