A man who flew a helicopter for news operations without a pilot’s license, including a stint with a Sacramento television station, was sentenced Thursday to prison for aggravated identity theft.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Thursday that John Michael Dial, 58, of Skaneateles, N.Y., was sentenced to two years in prison by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr.
Dial used the names of other people to violate federal law, such as by making false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration and by forging of a passport. He pleaded guilty in court on July 1.
“Dial stole identities, creating and forging numerous counterfeit documents to conceal his identity and criminal history as he moved from state to state to outrun his past,” said Monica Miller, the FBI’s special agent in charge in the Sacramento field office.
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The truth of Dial’s identity theft began to come clear after he was stopped in Idaho for a traffic violation. He produced fake identification from Vermont.
On March 15, 2012, Dial was hired to work as a television news helicopter pilot in Sacramento. Dial used his real name but the FAA certificates he provided were fraudulent, according to court documents cited by the U.S. Attorney’s office in a press release.
At the time of his arrest in July 2013, a Sacramento Bee story cited court documents saying he had flown for KCRA at least once in 2012.
Also according to court documents:
Dial was hired as a television news helicopter pilot and operated news helicopters in the Bay Area without a pilot's license from December 2009 to August 2010.
Dial worked for an air ambulance service in Susanville and provided numerous false identification documents to his employer. He operated a helicopter about 63 times without having a valid pilot certificate from July 2011 to November 2011.
Dial used the identity of a former co-worker to be hired with an air ambulance service in New York, and he created a fake passport using the person’s identity.