Mercy Flight pilot arrested for flying without a license

John Michael Dial

A former Mercy Flight Central pilot in Central New York is accused of operating an aircraft without a proper pilotâ??s license, according to federal prosecutors.

John Michael Dial was arrested in Skaneateles on Monday,

according to the FBI



CBS affiliate KOVR

in Sacramento reports that to continue flying after he allegedly lost his pilotâ??s license in the mid-1990s, Dial used over two-dozen different names, six social security numbers, and 10 dates of birth.

Dial was a pilot with Mercy Flight Central in Central New York, officials confirmed Wednesday at an unrelated news conference in Syracuse. Neil Snedeker, CEO of Mercy Flight Central read a brief statement and took only one question about the Dial arrest. Snedeker said they were informed of the arrest on Monday and are looking at their practices. He said that the pilot provider service EMS Air Services of NY is also looking at their practices.

"Mercy Flight Central has contracted with EMS Air Services for more than 21 years," said Snedeker. "We remain confident that all aviation services and all hiring practices provides by EMSAS are in compliance with FAA requirements. Mercy Flight Central does not participate in or direct EMSAS in their recruitment, hiring, or management of EMSAS personnel."

Paul Hyland, president of EMS Air Services of NY Inc., said Dial was employed with the company for eight months and was terminated immediately. He says there were no serious incidents while Dial was in the cockpit.

"The FBI informed EMS Air Services of NY that one of our pilots has been arrested as an alleged impostor for falsely portraying himself as a commercial pilot," said Hyland. "This individual cleared our extensive background check, and his license was verified by the Federal Aviation Administration. Unfortunately, no background check could have uncovered this individualâ??s true identity, as he provided all the necessary documentation and completed all the training required by the FAA and by our organization."

The FBI says Dial was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2012 for counts of making a false statement to federal aviation officials and one count of operating an aircraft without a proper pilotâ??s license. Dial made his initial appearance before a federal judge in Syracuse. He was detained and ordered transported back to Sacramento.

The FBI says that, according to court documents, between 2009 and 2012, Dial gave false information to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to work as a helicopter pilot for medevac service in Susanville, California, and as a news helicopter pilot in Sacramento and San Francisco.


Contra Costa Times

reports that Dial worked under the fake name Thomas R. Cuni while making 265 flights in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The FBI says Dial used fake names in order to avoid apprehension for two outstanding felony warrants. KOVR reports his previous convictions were for forgery, theft, and bad checks.

The arrest came nearly 20 years after Dial was convicted of providing false information to the Federal Aviation Administration. He was sentenced to two years in prison and a one-year term of supervised release.

If convicted, Dial faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a 3-year term of supervised release.

The case was investigated the Department of Transportation- Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Reardon.

Read the complaint

Read the indictment