- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Hansen flew aircraft obtained from "a pile of scrap"
Hansen Helicopters Inc. had received airworthiness certifications for 10 aircraft that were never inspected. The fleet included four helicopters severely damaged in previous accidents, one considered broken “beyond repair,” and two obtained from “a pile of scrap in Alaska,” according to a new court complaint.
New information regarding the previously sealed case against Hansen Helicopters were detailed in the complaint for forfeiture filed by the federal government in the District Court of Guam this week.
The federal government is seeking to forfeit $4.7 million worth of corporate funds seized from Hansen Helicopters and its subsidiaries following a wire fraud and money laundering investigation that later led to the conviction of Timothy Cislo, former safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Subject to forfeiture included Hansen’s $25,883.33 bank account and Caledonia Agency Inc.s’ $649,208.25, both with Bank of Hawaii in Hagatna; Walker Agricola LLC’s $1,043,262.16 with Community Bank and Trust in Neosho, Missouri; and $2.9 million in brokerage funds from the National Financial Services in Boston, Massachusetts in the name of John D. Walker.
These assets — deemed traceable to the wire fraud and money laundering that involved the purchase of a small aircraft gifted to Cislo — were seized by the government on Feb. 6, 2018 and March 7, 2018, according to the complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson.
Court records indicate that Cislo gave Hansen a wholesale clearance for its 10 aircraft on Feb. 27, 2015 after receiving a Taylorcraft which the company bought for him for $22,000 — in exchange for what he called “a sign-fest.”
FAA records indicated that the Taylorcraft in question is currently registered to Cislo, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud last month.
“According to Doug Dymock, FAA Inspector of the Special Emphasis Investigations Team, a safety inspector cannot, in good faith, properly inspect and issue airworthiness certificates for 10 helicopters in one day, especially since four of the helicopters were involved in previous accidents, including one helicopter considered damaged beyond repair, prior to Cislo issuing the aircraft an airworthiness certificate,” states the complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson.
FBI agents seized helicopters and other company properties during a raid on Hansen’s compound in Harmon on Oct. 26, 2016. The raid also yielded “electronic evidence” that showed email threads between Cislo and Hansen manager Kenneth Rufus Crowe discussing the purchase and wire transfer for the Taylorcraft.
“From 2009 to 2017, Cislo issued approximately 25 special airworthiness certificates, approximately five standard airworthiness certificates, and approximately 71 replacement airworthiness certificates, with majority of the issued certificates being to Hansen Helicopters Inc.,” court records said.
Four of the helicopters Cislo certified as airworthy had accident reports filed with the National Transportation Safety Board. One was destroyed over the Pacific Ocean on June 20, 1997. This airframe was also registered in the Philippines until Sept. 4, 2014, when they removed it from their registry by revocation.
Aircraft N74AM crashed in the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 6, 2004. N9056F had an accident on Sept. 19, 1975, and N9162F broken in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 30, 1999. They were reported to have sustained significant damage but never properly repaired.
Hansen had also obtained two aircraft “in a pile of scrap the company purchased in Alaska.” Around August 2004, aircraft number N243D was destroyed in a crash and subsequently deregistered and scrapped by its owner at the time.
“In a subsequent attempt to register N243D with the FAA, Crowe represented the aircraft had ‘erroneously’ been reported as destroyed or scrapped,” the complaint said. “Crowe conceded the aircraft was involved in a crash, but he falsely claimed the main fuselage had not been damaged in the crash. The prior owner of aircraft N243D had photographs showing that the aircraft fuselage was clearly damaged in the crash because it had to be cut in order to free one of the occupants from the downed aircraft.”