East Brookfield Man Charged with Illegally Operating a Helicopter
On May 9, 2019, in U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, Antonio Santonastaso was charged by criminal complaint with one count of serving as an airman without a certificate and one count of making false statements to Federal agents.
The investigation was initiated after a referral from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which alleged that from February 2018 to September 2018, Santonastaso piloted a Robinson R-22 helicopter on at least 57 flights without a valid flight certificate. FAA revoked his license in 2000, after he participated in the theft of a helicopter. An FAA review of the flight path showed Santonastaso taking off and landing from his backyard.
When questioned by FAA and DOT-OIG, Santonastaso repeatedly made false statements regarding his eligibility to pilot the helicopter. Among other things, he falsely claimed not to know that FAA had revoked his license and made false statements regarding a forged doctor’s signature on his FAA medical application.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.