27 Pilots Indicted for Hiding Use of Drugs, Alcohol

Associated Press

Twenty-seven pilots who allegedly lied about drug or alcohol-related convictions to get their licenses have been indicted for making false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration, officials announced Friday.

“These indictments are the first in a special nationwide project . . . to vigorously pursue this abuse in a critical sector of the nation’s transportation system,” interim U.S. Atty. Robert Genzman said.

The 27 pilots could face five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 each.

Ben Lorigo of the Transportation Department inspector general’s office in Washington said the crackdown came after computer checks were made of 711,000 pilots around the country.


More Indictments Likely

Transportation Secretary James H. Burnley IV said the government has investigations under way in all 50 states and “hundreds of further such indictments are expected.”

Among those indicted were 12 current or former commercial pilots, including one for Delta Air Lines, two student pilots, 10 private pilots and three others, Lorigo said.

Fred Kopec, 27, of Orlando, the Delta pilot, was charged with failing to reveal a drunken driving arrest in Lee County, Ala., in January, 1984.


Delta spokeswoman Jackie Pate in Atlanta confirmed that Kopec worked for the airline but said that officials had not been formally notified of his indictment.

When Delta is informed, “we will take the appropriate action, which would be to suspend the pilot,” Pate said.

Also facing charges was Orion Air pilot John David Klepac, 48, of Tampa, who is accused of failing to disclose a conviction for conspiracy to import marijuana and cocaine into Florida in December, 1981.

Ronald Newton Crews, 36, of Cocoa Beach, a pilot for Cherokee Air Express, was convicted of trafficking cocaine in Polk County in June, 1985, and failed to inform the FAA, the indictment said.