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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Pilot Who Crash Landed Plane in Suffolk Pleads Guilty

NORFOLK, Va. – A Suffolk man pleaded guilty today to piloting an aircraft without a proper pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

According to court documents, Robert R. Gray, Jr., 55, was flying a 1972 Piper Aircraft in July when he crashed it while attempting to land at the Umphlett Airstrip in Suffolk. Gray had a student pilot license but that license had expired and medical conditions, including a prosthetic leg, prevented Gray from obtaining the required medical clearance to fly an aircraft. It was during the crash landing that his prosthetic leg became stuck on the aircraft’s brake and caused it to spin out on landing. After initially denying he was the pilot of the aircraft, Gray admitted he had flown the plane, and told investigators he had no business flying the plane because he can barely drive a car.

Court records further indicate that Gray bought and sold aircraft, and reports to the FAA indicated Gray was flying airplanes in October 2016 and June 2017, despite officials specifically informing him on each occasion that he was not permitted to fly an aircraft.

Gray, Jr. pleaded guilty to serving as an airman without a certificate and faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison when sentenced on March 23, 2018. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Calvin L. Scovell, III, Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph L. Kosky is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:17-cr-140.

Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated December 19, 2017