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Massachusetts Man Charged With Illegally Operating a Helicopter

On May 30, 2019, a four-count indictment was unsealed in the U.S. District Court in Boston, charging Antonio Santonastaso of East Brookfield, Massachusetts, with serving as an airman without an airman’s certificate, two counts of false statements, and attempted witness tampering. He was previously charged via criminal complaint and arrested by DOT-OIG special agents on May 9, 2019. 

The indictment alleged that Santonastaso piloted a Robinson R-22 helicopter more than 50 times between April 28, 2018, and November 11, 2018, taking off and landing from his backyard. At the time, he did not have an airman’s certificate as it had been revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, he allegedly made false statements to DOT-OIG and FAA regarding his involvement in the theft of a helicopter from Norwood Airport in May 2000, his operation of a helicopter in 2018, and his application for an airman’s medical certificate. 

According to the indictment, he also attempted to prevent or interfere with an individual who had reported his illicit activities. 

DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with FAA’s assistance.

Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.