Kent man, Delbert Garfield Stewart charged with flying an airplane without a valid pilot certificate
(STL.News) Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Thursday, May 13, charging Delbert Garfield Stewart, 70, of Kent, Ohio, with flying an airplane without a valid airman’s certificate.
According to court documents, on June 20, 2019, July 5, 2020 and March 8, 2021, the Defendant knowingly and willfully piloted a Bellanca Model 17-30A single-engine aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate. Court records state that the Defendant obtained an airman certificate in 1978 and purchased the single-engine aircraft in 2010.
In February of 2014, court records state that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suspended the Defendant’s airman certificate, citing numerous FAA regulation violations. In response to the suspension, the Defendant claimed that the FAA did not have authority over him as a private induvial not engaged in commerce, according to court records. It is alleged that the Defendant continued to operate the aircraft, despite the 2014 suspension. Stewart’s airman certificate was later revoked.
On June 20, 2019, it is alleged that the Defendant piloted the aircraft from Portage County Regional Airport (KPOV) in Ravenna, Ohio, and landed at the Warsaw Indiana Airport (KASW) in Warsaw, Indiana. While in Indiana, the Defendant allegedly flew the aircraft on multiple flights, with passengers on board.
On July 5, 2020, it is alleged that an FAA official and an Ohio State Trooper attempted to investigate the Defendant and the aircraft when the aircraft landed at Portage County Regional Airport (KPOV), Ravenna, Ohio. The indictment states that the Defendant was the pilot of the aircraft, and an adult passenger was also on board. The FAA official advised the Defendant that his airmen certificate was revoked, and the airworthiness certificate for the aircraft was also suspended.
On March 8, 2021, it is alleged that the Defendant flew from Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport (KPUJ) in Georgia to KPOV in Ravenna, Ohio. During this flight, it is alleged that the Defendant failed to activate the transponder for the aircraft until he was in close proximity to the KPOV airport. As a result, the Defendant’s aircraft was unable to be tracked by the FAA until the transponder was turned on shortly before landing.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, the Defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the Defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the Defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation.
In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and Ohio State Highway Patrol. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Damoun Delaviz and Brad Beeson.