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Press Release

Former Carson Helicopter Vice President Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the United States Forest Service

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

Government to Seek Sentence Enhancement for the Reckless Risk of Death and Serious Bodily Injury Involved in the Offense

Medford, Ore. – Steven Metheny, 44, of Medford, Oregon pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud and the Making of False Statements in defrauding the United States Forest Service in procuring helicopter firefighting contracts in 2008.

In entering his guilty pleas before United States Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke, Metheny admitted to conspiring in the submission of false empty helicopter weights in Carson Helicopter’s contract bid proposals to the Forest Service in order to meet minimum contract specifications, thereby enabling Carson Helicopters to receive contract awards and money from the Forest Service that it would not have received otherwise.  United States Attorney Amanda Marshall said, “This is a particularly important case.  Submitting false information about helicopter payload capabilities in the bid process both defrauded the Forest Service and created a reckless risk of harm to those who used the information in firefighting operations.  This includes those who were relying on the false information when a Carson helicopter crashed near Weaverville, California on August 5, 2008, killing nine and seriously injuring four others.”  According to the plea agreement in this case, the U. S. Attorney’s Office will be seeking an enhancement to defendant’s sentence based on the offense involving the reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Metheny Plea Agreement
Metheny Indictment

The maximum sentence for the Conspiracy is 20 years in prison and Making False Statements is 5 years in prison with fines up to $250,000 for each offense.  Sentencing is set for March 2, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Owen M. Panner.  Levi Phillips, former Carson Helicopter Director of Maintenance, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud previously and his sentencing is currently scheduled for February 2, 2015.

The U. S. Attorney’s Office has worked with the Offices of Inspector General for both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Transportation in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, and the FBI and the IRS in Medford, Oregon in the investigation and prosecution of this case.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Byron Chatfield.

Updated April 7, 2015