Defendants in the Hansen Helicopters case in the District Court of Guam are objecting to a pilot being deposed outside of court.
On Tuesday, attorneys for the defendants appeared via teleconference in a hearing on the opposition to having the former pilot, who is out on bond on Guam, deposed on Aug. 6 and 7.
John Walker, Marvin Reed, Kenneth Crowe and Phillip Kapp of Hansen Helicopters were charged in 2018 with conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration in connection with a crash on Sept. 2, 2015, that resulted in the death of pilot Rafael Antonio Cruz Santos.
Attorney Gregory Nicolaysen, representing Kenneth Crowe, argued from Los Angeles that the witness is a conspirator in the alleged crimes.
"He is not a victim, not an observer. He is actually a participant in the charged offenses, according to the government's theory in the indictment," he said.
Nicolaysen told the court the matter of whether the former pilot can be deposed is premature and a decision should not yet be made. He said if the court does agree to allow the deposition, it should be done in September.
Marie Miller, special assistant U.S. attorney, disagreed that the witness is a participant in the alleged crimes.
"The defendants kept substantial information from all their pilots and mechanics" she said.
Miller claimed the former pilot was flying three different N-numbered aircraft when he worked for Hansen despite their not being overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration.
"Specifically the aircraft ... N45777 ... is still being flown as if it were registered by the FAA and had a current airworthiness certificate, when it is neither registered by the FAA nor does it have an airworthiness certificate," she said. "It is registered nowhere. There is no oversight being conducted of the defendant's use of these aircrafts."
Witness allegedly threatened
She told the court that defendant Crowe had threatened the pilot.
"I think your honor should also be reminded that it is Mr. Crowe who has threatened this witness and who has told this witness to shut the expletive up and not speak to the government. That is obstructing justice. That's tampering with a witness, and that is inappropriate," Miller said.
Nicolaysen said his client had not threatened the witness.
"That is simply untrue," he said.
Miller told the judge the former pilot's testimony is crucial to the proceedings.
"It would be grossly unfair for the jury not to hear from him, this witness," she said.
Magistrate Judge Michael Bordallo said the matter would be taken under advisement.
"We will issue our decision within the next two days at the latest," Bordallo said.