December 11, 2019
Florida Man Arrested for Probation Violation After Operating a Commercial Aircraft Without a Valid Pilot’s License
On December 11, 2019, Christopher Woods was arrested for violating the terms of probation by operating an aircraft after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suspended his airman’s certificate and flying commercially beyond a 250-mile radius from Ocala, Florida. Woods appeared in the U.S. District Court in Ocala, and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond, must submit to location monitoring, and is not allowed on aircraft without permission from the U.S. Probation Office.
On February 20, 2019, Woods was sentenced to 3 years probation with the following special conditions: “Employment Restrictions: Defendant is prohibited from engaging in any aviation for hire, related to piloting of private or commercial aircraft. Additionally, Defendant is prohibited from carrying passengers for charitable events under FAA Part 91. Defendant shall comply with and abide by any FAA determinations with respect to the Defendant’s flying privileges. Geographic Restrictions: Defendant shall not fly any distance greater than 250 nautical miles from Ocala, Florida, without first notifying and requesting permission from the United States Probation Office. Should the flight exceed 250 nautical miles, the Defendant shall provide his Probation Officer with the purpose, length, duration, and points of embarkation and debarkation of the flight.”
On October 9, 2019, FAA informed DOT-OIG that Woods may have been operating aircraft illegally. Between October 9, 2019, and December 2, 2019, DOT-OIG interviewed several witnesses who stated that Woods was operating aircraft for profit despite the restrictions established by FAA and the court. The investigation led to additional evidence alleging that Woods had flown to New York and Pennsylvania for profit-based reasons.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.