Pilot in Fatal Ski Gondola Accident Kicked Out of Casino

From Associated Press

Just weeks after he was released from prison, the Marine pilot whose jet clipped a ski gondola cable in Italy, killing 20 people, was kicked out of a Las Vegas casino for allegedly causing a disturbance.

Capt. Richard Ashby, 32, of Mission Viejo, was cited Monday for trespassing, a misdemeanor, after he was asked by Rio Suite hotel casino security guards to leave and refused, Las Vegas Police Lt. Marc Joseph said Thursday.

Joseph said the casino claimed Ashby was causing a disturbance about 1:30 a.m. Monday and was repeatedly warned by security guards that he was trespassing.

"He still refused to leave after that," Joseph said. "He was issued a ticket, and he was on his way."

Joseph did not know if Ashby was intoxicated or what the disturbance was about.

Ashby was convicted of obstruction of justice in May. He was sentenced to six months in a military prison and ordered dismissed from the Marine Corps, though he has not yet been dismissed. The dismissal order still must be approved by the Marine officers managing the cable car case.

Meanwhile, Ashby was released from the Camp Lejeune, N.C., prison in early October for good behavior.

He was acquitted in March of 20 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of the passengers aboard the gondola on Feb. 3, 1998.

Ashby testified that he took a personal videotape out of his North Carolina-based EA-6B Prowler after making an emergency landing at the NATO air base at Aviano, Italy. He said the navigator, Capt. Joseph Schweitzer, asked for help in swapping tapes after the landing.

Schweitzer was sentenced to dismissal from the Marine Corps after he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

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