Today, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Arnold Gerald Leto III with two counts of piloting a plane without a license. Leto was charged for flying a Cessna Citation turbojet aircraft from Santa Monica, California, to Phoenix, Arizona, on or about January 30, 2015, and a Falcon 10 turbojet aircraft from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas, Nevada, on or about April 8, 2016.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Each charge alleged in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of three years federal prison.
Orange County Pilot Charged with Flying Private Jet without Having Proper License Issued by FAA
LOS ANGELES– An Irvine man was arrested this morning on federal charges of illegally flying a twin-engine Falcon 10 turbojet airplane with passengers onboard without having a valid pilot's license.
Arnold Gerald Leto III, 36, was charged in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District court with operating an aircraft in air transportation without a valid airman's certificate.
The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Leto's pilot's license was revoked earlier this year, he operated the Falcon without having the required co-pilot, and he was never certified to fly this type of aircraft.
Leto is scheduled to be arraigned on the felony offense this afternoon in United States District Court.
Leto is charged will illegally flying the Falcon 10 from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 8. Leto allegedly operated the aircraft with approximately eight passengers on board.
“Federal regulations governing the operation of aircraft and other common carriers are designed to protect the traveling public,” said United States 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. A swift and thorough investigation by the Department of Transportation has now improved the safety of all air travelers.”
According to the complaint, the aircraft that Leo piloted alone is a complex aircraft that requires two pilots to operate. Furthermore, Leto's defendant's pilot certificate – which he failed to surrender after it was revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in January – did not have a turbojet-type rating that would authorize him to fly that airplane.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The charge alleged in the complaint carries a statutory maximum penalty of three years federal prison.
This case was investigated by the Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, with assistance by the Federal Aviation Administration.
USAO – California, Central Updated May 19, 2016
Central District of California DOJ /16-113 / May 19, 2016