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Calif chopper pilot accused of using fake names

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm •  Published: July 24, 2013

However, he explained that generally people who apply for pilot certificates must present a government-issued photo ID. The FAA does not do criminal background checks on most applicants, but their names are run through the National Driver Registry to see if they have any drug or alcohol-related arrests, Gregor said.

In addition, as part of a law established after 9/11, foreign students must register with the Transportation Security Administration and undergo a criminal background check if they plan to attend a flight school and potentially seek a pilot's license in the U.S.

The current grand jury indictment in California was unsealed on Tuesday. It charges Dial with two counts of making a false statement to Federal Aviation Administration officials and one count of operating an aircraft without a pilot's license.

He could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

An FBI affidavit says Dial provided false information to FAA officials for years to work as a pilot for an air ambulance service in Susanville and as a news helicopter pilot in the Sacramento and San Francisco areas.

He is accused of using his alias while supplying the air ambulance service with information that included an FAA temporary airman certificate, an FAA medical second class certificate, a Vermont driver's license bearing his picture, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot qualification card and an Army discharge from active duty.

The FBI affidavit said Dial got his FAA certification using an alias but his last recorded flights were under his real name.

According to the complaint, Dial told law enforcement in Idaho in April 2012 that he used the name Thomas R. Cuni in order to avoid apprehension for two outstanding felony warrants in Washington state.