Investigations

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California Air Ambulance Pilot Sentenced for Falsification of FAA Airman Medical

On August 8, a former air ambulance service pilot was ordered by a U.S. District Court judge in Sacramento, California, to repay $37,456 in excess Social Security disability benefits. Michael David Pennington, of Susanville, California, was also ordered to pay a $500 fine and serve 180 days home detention as a result of his March conviction by a Federal jury on charges of making false statements on his application for an airman’s medical certificate and failing to report Social Security disability overpayments.

Pennington was a former chief pilot and maintenance director for Mountain Life Flight, an air ambulance service based in Susanville. Testimony during the trial disclosed that Pennington falsified his application for his annual airman’s medical certificate between 2001 and 2004 by failing to indicate that he was receiving disability benefits for debilitating back disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennington also failed to inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) that he was employed during that period, resulting in his receiving excess Social Security disability payments from 2003 to 2005.