Thursday Sep 29 2011
Bogus repairs alleged in federal indictment of six Lincoln aircraft firm ex-employees
By: Gus Thomson, Journal staff writer
A federal grand jury has indicted six former executives and supervisors at Lincoln’s WECO Aerospace Systems on allegations of fraudulent airplane repairs. The FAA-certified aircraft repair station was purchased in 2007 by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. It was originally founded by father and son Hal and Bill Weygandt of Lincoln in 1974. Neither were named in the indictment. Charged with conspiracy and fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce are Jerry Edward Kuwata, 60, of Granite Bay, Michael Dennis Maupin, 58, of Arbuckle, Scott Hamilton Durham, 39, of Roseville, Christopher Warren MacQueen, 53, of Lincoln, Douglas Arthur Johnson, 52, of Granite Bay, and Anthony Vincent Zito, 47, of Saugus. The six are also charged in the indictment with mail fraud. The indictment states that the defendants “regularly directed WECO technicians to use unapproved parts in repairs.” “On one occasion, Maupin and MacQueen allegedly used a paper clip instead of an approved part to complete a repair, and then returned that part to the customer after certifying that the repair had been done properly,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said Thursday. After finalizing its purchase of WECO in 2008, Gulfstream has fully cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the case, a statement from the Justice Department’s Sacramento office said Thursday. “The conduct alleged in the indictment occurred prior to Gulfstream’s acquisition of WECO, and none of the defendants is currently employed at WECO,” the release stated. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said the indictment alleges that the defendants knowingly cut corners in repairing aircraft parts and concealed the fact that they were not complying with FAA regulations. “While it is fortunate that there are no aircraft crashes known to be associated with faulty repairs conducted by these defendants, their alleged conduct needlessly took risks with the safety of persons who used aircraft that they repaired,” Wagner said. If convicted, the six face maximum prison terms of 15 years and fines of $500,000. On the mail fraud charges, the maximum penalty for each count is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Before the sale to Gulfstream, WECO was a family-owned business. Bill Weygandt is the brother of Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt, who worked at WACO from 1979 to 2004, according to information on the supervisor’s county website. Prior to his departure, Robert Weygandt was vice president and chief financial officer, the website said. The indictment alleges that criminal activity at WECO took place between Oct. 26, 2006 and Feb. 15, 2008. Robert Weygandt was not available for comment on Thursday. There was no mention in the 32-page indictment of either Robert or Bill Weygandt, or the late Hal Weygandt.