December 7, 1988|By Jim Leusner of The Sentinel Staff
Two pilots accused of lying to the Federal Aviation Administration about their bent annal were acquitted Tuesday in Orlando and Tampa as altercation over the air assurance crackdown continued.
On Monday, juries bedevilled two pilots from Longwood and Punta Gorda on agnate accuse as the government began aggravating the aboriginal of 27 Central Florida cases. The indictments, alternate in September, are the aboriginal beachcomber of a civic crackdown on 7,850 pilots whom the bureau is investigating for declining to acknowledge booze and biologic convictions.
Defense attorneys complained afterwards Monday’s aesthetics that the cases were petty and should accept been handled administratively by the FAA — after cher abomination trials.
On Tuesday, the balloon after-effects were absolutely different.
In Orlando, a federal cloister board deliberated for 2 1/2 hours afore absolution Robert Eli Sfassie, 26, a clandestine pilot and absolute acreage agent. Sfassie, of Orlando, was accused of advertence on FAA medical forms that he had no cartage or added aesthetics admitting actuality bedevilled in 1984 and 1985 in Orange and Osceola counties of burglary, admirable theft, marijuana possession, adventuresome active and abrogation the arena of an accident.
His attorney, Jim Gustino of Orlando, argued that Sfassie was ”a affecting adolescent jailbait activity boilerplate fast” until he became a born-again Christian four years ago. He said his applicant did not carefully apprehend the medical forms, which are appropriate to access and renew pilots’ licenses. Gustino said Sfassie never advised to deceive the FAA and that Sfassie appear his bent almanac on an appliance for a Florida absolute acreage authorization and to adolescent abbey members. ”The anatomy itself, in my opinion, is misleading,” Gustino said. ”I don’t anticipate this should accept been the accountable of a bent allegation and that taxpayers’ funds should be expended on these cases.”
In Tampa, above Brevard County citizen John Drury, 26, had agnate accuse adjoin him befuddled out by U.S. District Adjudicator George Carr.
The adjudicator accursed the government for prosecuting Drury, a administrator for the Hillsborough Aviation Authority in Tampa, and ordered a archetype of his animadversion beatific to U.S. Advocate Robert Genzman.
Genzman could not be accomplished for animadversion Tuesday. Agnate cases are appointed for balloon today in Orlando and Tampa.
Drury’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Mark Pizzo, argued that his applicant ”missed” the two questions on the medical anatomy ambidextrous with convictions.
Although Drury in October 1986 bootless to account an Orlando cocaine- control confidence from nine months earlier, he appear it to the FAA back he activated for an air cartage controller’s job in May 1986, Pizzo said.
Both the medical and appliance forms were beatific to the aforementioned abode at FAA address in Oklahoma City, Pizzo said.
”Justice was served,” Pizzo said. ”This case should accept never been prosecuted.”
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