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Former California News Helicopter Pilot Ordered to Pay $42,000 in Restitution

On December 11, 2014, John Michael Dial, of Skaneateles, New York, was ordered to pay restitution of $14,000 to each of his three former employers in U.S. District Court, Sacramento, California, for losses relating to his criminal conduct. On October 2, 2014, Dial was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Sacramento, California, to 24 months in prison and 12 months supervised release.

The investigation revealed that from December 16, 2009, to August 4, 2010, Dial was hired as a television news helicopter pilot and operated news helicopters in the San Francisco, California, area under a false identity. Then, on March 15, 2012, Dial was hired under his real name to work as a television news helicopter pilot in Sacramento, California. To gain employment, Dial submitted a fraudulent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Temporary Airman Certificate and an FAA Medical Second Class Certificate to the station. He also used the identity of a former co-worker to gain employment as a helicopter pilot with an air ambulance service in New York and created a fraudulent United States passport using that person's identity. Dial’s scheme of using false identities to pilot aircraft went on for numerous years.

We are conducting this investigation with the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Cascade, Idaho and McCall, Idaho Police Departments.