Pilot Pleads Guilty to False Statement after Conducting an Illegal Charter Flight to North Carolina
On October 3, 2011, in U.S. District Court, Raleigh, North Carolina, Jose C. Joga, an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed Airline Transport Pilot entered a plea of guilty to one count of false statements in connection with his role in an unlicensed charter airline operation in south Florida.
The investigation revealed that Caribair, Inc., operated a chartered commercial flight (Flight N815MA), which had been booked through an aircraft charter broker to fly a family of five passengers to New York. On January 3, 2009, Mr. Joga, the captain and pilot of Flight N815MA, departed Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with five passengers on board and instructed them that upon arriving in Wilmington, North Carolina, they should not say to authorities that they had paid for the flight, but rather should falsely state that they were friends of the plane's owner. Approximately, thirty minutes into the flight, Mr. Joga threatened to return to Santo Domingo if the passengers did not agree to say what he had instructed them to say upon arrival in Wilmington, North Carolina, when clearing U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection. Upon nearing the Wilmington airport the aircraft was damaged as it impacted the runway during a forced landing, with the landing gear retracted. In spite of the accident, no serious injuries were sustained.
A post-accident investigation conducted by FAA determined that neither Caribair, nor N815MA involved in the transportation of the family were certificated under Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 135 (Charter Operations). As part of the investigation, FAA interviewed Mr. Joga and he stated that the flight was conducted under Part 91, and that all five passengers on the aircraft were friends of the owner.
This investigation was conducted jointly with the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration Customs Enforcement, along with technical assistance from FAA.