Paper Clip Repair Sparks Charges

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Six former employees of WECO Aerospace, a Lincoln, Calif, maintenance and repair facility near Sacramento, are facing charges relating to work done on aircraft prior to 2007. California residents 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 have been indicted by a Sacramento federal grand jury on 36 charges of using unapproved parts in aircraft repairs. In at least one case, a paper clip was used, the indictments allege. The repairs apparently did the trick, at least temporarily, because there were no incidents reported that were directly related to the work, but the long list of alleged corner-cutting and fraud has raised the dander of prosecutors. There have been no reported problems since Gulfstream took over.

The indictment alleges the company didn't even have the equipment to do some of the work it signed off on and that those involved routinely ignored maintenance manuals and FAA regs. "The indictment alleges that these 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," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in a statement. "FAA regulations are intended to ensure the safety of air travel, and those who disregard them in order to increase profits should face serious consequences."