Conspiracy Theory Revived In Fatal Crash

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Running the local airport can sometimes be a stressful, even unpopular position, but life-threatening? That's the underlying theme of an investigative report by a New Jersey newspaper that has federal, state and local officials re-opening their files on the suddenly mysterious crash of a light twin in Hillsborough in 1998. According to the report in the Ashbury Park Sunday Press, the pilot, 34-year-old Lino Fasio, was trying to buy Marlboro Airport -- to operate as an airport (developers who bribed the mayor had other plans) -- when the crash occurred. He had filed two previous complaints that his Piper Apache had been tampered with. The NTSB determined a "soft body impact," most likely a bird strike, had caused the tail of the Piper to separate in flight, even though no blood or remains were found. But five crash experts interviewed by the newspaper said that since there was no evidence of bird remains or blood on the tail, which ended up hundreds of feet from the rest of the wreckage, a bird strike was a very unlikely cause. Fasio and a passenger were killed. But Fasio wasn't the only one trying to buy the airport and the resulting transactions resulted in the area's biggest-ever political scandal. In April, former Marlboro Mayor Matthew V. Scannapieco pleaded guilty to taking $245,000 in bribes from developer Anthony Spalliero, who had a deal with a Staten Island company to build high-density housing on the 51-acre site reportedly worth $25 million. Spalliero has also been charged. In light of the newspaper report, the NTSB and FBI are reviewing the case as are state and local agencies. The airport closed in 2003 and has not been rezoned.