Kent Man sentenced for flying a plane without a valid certificate | USAO-NDOH

A Kent man has been sentenced to two years probation and a weekend of intermittent detention after previously pleading guilty to flying a plane without a valid airman’s certificate in June 2019. Delbert Garfield Stewart, 71, has was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. on Monday, August 8, 2022, and was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

According to court documents, on three occasions, between June 2019 and March 2021, Stewart flew a Bellanca Model 17-30A single-engine aircraft without a valid certificate. Court records show that Stewart obtained a private pilot certificate through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1978. Additionally, court documents indicate that Stewart purchased the Bellance aircraft in October 2010, registered to his address in Kent, Ohio.

On November 14, 2013, the FAA notified Stewart of a 180-day suspension of his pilot’s certificate due to numerous FAA violations, particularly those that occurred during a September 2, 2013 flight from the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport in Atlanta, Georgia to Portage. Ravenna County Airport, Ohio.

In that incident, the FAA said Stewart flew his plane into conditions he was not allowed to fly in and climbed to an altitude without notifying air traffic control. Stewart responded to the FAA notice by saying the FAA did not have jurisdiction over him as a non-commercial individual. The FAA suspended Stewart’s certificate on February 6, 2014. Stewart’s certificate remained suspended until the FAA revoked the certificate in October 2019, after Stewart flew the plane and landed without the landing gear completely out.

Court records indicate that on separate occasions between June 2019 and March 2021, Stewart flew his plane despite the February 2014 suspension and October 2019 dismissal. Court documents describe these incidents as follows:

  • On June 20, 2019, Stewart flew the aircraft from Portage County Regional Airport (KPOV) in Ravenna, Ohio, and landed at Warsaw Indiana Airport (KASW) in Warsaw, Indiana. While in Indiana, Stewart flew the plane on several flights with passengers on board.
  • On July 5, 2020, Stewart flew and landed the aircraft at KPOV with a passenger on board. An FAA official informed Stewart that his airman’s certificate had been revoked and that the aircraft’s certificate of airworthiness had also been suspended.
  • On March 8, 2021, Stewart flew from Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport (KPUJ) in Georgia to KPOV Airport. Prior to the flight, law enforcement informed Stewart that his pilot’s certificate had been revoked.

Prior to trial, Stewart filed motions to dismiss the charges against him, arguing, among other things, that neither Congress nor the FAA have the power to regulate his conduct and that their attempt to do so violated the Commerce Clause. , as well as other constitutional provisions. . The Court dismissed the petitions, finding that the Commerce Clause allowed Congress to pass laws regulating instruments of commerce, such as airplanes, even if the pilot was not flying for hire.

On April 18, 2022, Stewart was scheduled to stand trial on the matter before Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr., in Cleveland. However, during jury selection, Stewart pleaded guilty to one count of flying an aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate on June 20, 2019.

This investigation was conducted by the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Damoun Delaviz and Brad Beeson.

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