District Court Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan Jr. has recommended that a request to dismiss certain criminal charges involving officials of Guam-based Hansen Helicopters should be denied.
The court is being asked to dismiss two criminal charges in the criminal case accusing four men of defrauding the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.
John Walker, Marvin Reed, Kenneth Crowe and Phillip Kapp of Hansen Helicopters were charged in May 2018 with wire fraud, money laundering and destruction or falsification of records following a lengthy investigation.
Hansen operated aerial tours, tuna-spotting services for international fishing operations, and provided charter services for federal agencies to the Northern Mariana Islands that are otherwise inaccessible by air.
The defendants argued the indictment failed to set forward the facts and law necessary to sufficiently charge a conspiracy to defraud the United States. They argued that because the NTSB is “strictly an investigating entity” with no regulatory or enforcement authority, count one should be dismissed.
The indictment charged the men with conspiracy to defraud the FAA in connection with a Hansen aircraft bearing the tail number N9068F, which crashed on Sept. 2, 2015, resulting in the death of pilot Rafael Antonio Cruz Santos, and a Hansen aircraft bearing the tail number N234D.
The defendants argued that counts one and two of the indictment “conspicuously lack any allegation” that defendants conspired to defraud the U.S. government by impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the NTSB and FAA.
Documents filed by the prosecution accused the men of obtaining aircraft that had been previously deregistered because they were destroyed, scrapped or otherwise deemed not airworthy. The defendants also are accused of falsifying documents and records submitted to government agencies to obtain air worthiness certificates for those same aircraft, court documents state.
After reviewing the indictment, Manibusan found the indictment sufficiently alleges that the defendants employed deceitful and dishonest means to obstruct the functions of the FAA and NTSB, and recommended the chief judge deny the motion to dismiss.
The defendants have 14 days to file their objections to the report and recommendation.