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WEDNESDAY - January 4, 2012

Pilot Sentenced for Lying to Faa Investigators During Investigation of Forced Landing

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court yesterday Senior United States District Judge W. Earl Britt, sentenced JOSE CAMILLO JOGA, 40, to three years of federal probation.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on March 16, 2011. On October 3, 2011, JOGA pled guilty to one count of making false statements to a federal agency, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.

According to the investigation, JOGA conducted an unauthorized commercial flight into the United States that resulted in a forced landing at Wilmington International Airport, Wilmington, North Carolina, on January 4, 2009. The flight was en route from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to Teeterboro, New Jersey, with a scheduled stop for customs and refueling at Wilmington, North Carolina. The passengers were a family from New York who had been vacationing, and chartered the flight to return to their home. JOGA, who piloted the flight, instructed the passengers that, during the refueling and customs stop in Wilmington, they should not tell customs authorities that they had purchased the flight, but rather should falsely state that they were friends of the plane’s owner. The passengers did not know the plane’s owner. JOGA was not qualified under Federal Aviation Regulations to conduct commercial flights.

At the time the aircraft made its approach, thick fog in the Wilmington area made conditions hazardous. Air traffic control advised JOGA to divert to Jacksonville, North Carolina, where conditions were more favorable. JOGA opted not to do so, citing his need to pass through customs in Wilmington. After several unsuccessful attempts to land, the aircraft ran out of fuel, both engines failed, and the landing gear would not cycle. JOGA performed a crash landing, causing significant damage to the aircraft, but no physical injury to the passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted an investigation into the cause of the crash. As part of the investigation, JOGA was interviewed by an FAA operations inspector. During the interview, JOGA falsely stated that the flight was private in nature. JOGA’s pilot certification was administratively suspended by the FAA.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Department of Transportation - Office of Inspector General, and the United States Department of Homeland Security. Assistant United States Attorney Toby Lathan served as prosecutor for the government.

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