Regarding the user fee issue: As a group, aircraft owner/operators are among the most affluent members of society. We should never have been on the government dole and should always have been paying for every service we get.
This is necessary not only as a matter of equity, but we must have control of the "services" offered. Free enterprise should be allowed to provide WX, traffic, ATC, whatever.
Cell phones automatically and invisibly change frequencies and power levels constantly. Why in this age should we have government workers telling us when to make frequency changes? We are held back by government's inability to adapt to the times. If we were paying, we would demand efficiency.
So, for both reasons, we should pay.
This "departure fee" is only the start of the usual ruse of our government to open the door to other user fees. Once this small fee is allowed, it will lead to many other fees, not to mention a simple ongoing set of increases on this fee to where it becomes a monster in and of itself.
This is simply a "foot in the door," and acceptance of this fee is simply the start of the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill. History has shown this to us time after time after time.
This is a bad question. Let it die. He stole $200,000. I'd bet the FBI and other agencies have spent more than $20,000,000 trying to solve this. Worse than that, they are still spending money. Let it die. Enough money has been wasted on a dead man. Your question just perpetuates the spending of more taxpayer dollars.
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy the expanded "Picture of the Week" segment. Can never get enough.