Former Operations Manager of WECO Sentenced for Recklessly Endangering Aircraft
On April 28, 2015, Jerry Edward Kuwata of Granite Bay, California, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Sacramento, California, to one year and one day in prison and two years of supervised release.
Between October 2006 and February 2008, Kuwata, the former operations manager at WECO Aerospace Systems, Inc. (WECO), conspired with others, to conceal facts from customers and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about WECO's fraudulent aircraft repairs.
WECO was an FAA-certified repair business with facilities in Lincoln and Burbank, California. According to court documents, WECO was permitted by the FAA to repair certain types of aircraft parts, including starter generators and converters, used on various types of aircraft, including small helicopters used by tour companies and law enforcement agencies. WECO employees regularly failed to follow FAA regulations in repairing and overhauling the aircraft parts. In many cases, WECO did not have equipment capable of performing required tests. However, at both locations WECO employees performed repairs and returned parts to customers, falsely certifying that the parts had passed tests and been repaired in accordance to FAA standards.
We conducted this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the FAA.