FBI Arrests Mercy Flight Central Pilot

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photo: Lauren Long / The Post-Standard

photo: Lauren Long / The Post-Standard

Federal prosecutors allege that a former military pilot who for the past eight months flew helicopters in the Syracuse, N.Y., area for Mercy Flight Central passed the company's background check using a false name and did not hold proper FAA certification. John Dial allegedly went by the name Alex Coussirat when applying for his EMS Air Services job (a company that provides pilots for Mercy Flight Central). As Coussirat (a name that belongs to another pilot), Dial passed background checks and gave references that allowed his criminal record to remain undiscovered, according to prosecutors. Details of the investigation are now coming to light. 

Paul Hyland, president of EMS Air Services, N.Y., told Syracuse.com that his company had no problems with Dial until the FBI called. Dial has allegedly operated under more than 20 aliases, and has theft and forgery convictions that date back 35 years, according to prosecutors. In 1994, they say he was convicted of making false statements to the FAA. When he skipped town after making bail on an arrest warrant, investigators tracked his veterans benefits to the Syracuse area. And eventually they found him at Mercy Flight Central working as Alex Coussirat and passing off documentation that was entirely forged, say prosecutors. According to Hyland, no background check would have found Dial's true identity because he provided all the documentation, associated it with an actual pilot, and fulfilled all the training requirements of the FAA and EMS Air Services. Forgeries, false Social Security numbers and identity theft aside, Dial has no record to indicate he was an unsafe pilot from a purely operational perspective.