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Three local men charged with conspiracy and fraud

Case involves former executives and supervisors at WECO Aerospace Systems Inc.
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Two Granite Bay men and a Roseville man were charged Thursday with conspiracy and fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce, and mail fraud. Jerry Edward Kuwata, 60, and Douglas Arthur Johnson, 52, both of Granite Bay, and Scott Hamilton Durham, 39, of Roseville, were charged along with Michael Dennis Maupin, 58, of Arbuckle, Christopher Warren MacQueen, 53, of Lincoln, and Anthony Vincent Zito, 47, of Saugus. The defendants are all former executives and supervisors at WECO Aerospace Systems Inc., an FAA-certified air repair station based in Lincoln, which was purchased in 2007 by Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates air travel and publishes regulations that FAA-certified repair stations are required to follow, which include the use of parts that are approved for repairs, and tests and inspections that stations are required to conduct before a repaired part can be returned and reinstalled into an aircraft. WECO was permitted to repair, among other items, rotables and converters. In repairing these parts, a certified repair station is required to use FAA-approved parts. According to the 36-count indictment, the defendants regularly directed WECO technicians to use unapproved parts in repairs. On one occasion, Maupin and MacQueen allegedly used a paper clip to complete a repair. During the repair of an aircraft part, a certified repair station is required to comply with the manufacturer?s Component Maintenance Manual, a step-by-step guide for conducting a proper repair. The indictment alleges that the defendants regularly failed to follow the manufacturer?s manual. According to the indictment, the defendants did not have the equipment needed to perform many of the tests required but performed repairs of parts and returned those parts to customers, falsely certifying that the part had been repaired in accordance with FAA regulations. There have been no known instances in which a fraudulent WECO repair resulted in an aircraft accident. Upon learning of the allegations, the FAA issued an emergency order suspending WECO?s repair station certificate. Since finalizing its purchase of WECO in 2008, Gulfstream has fully cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of this case, according to the news release. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty for the conspiracy to commit fraud and fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce of 15 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 and three years of supervised release. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud is 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and a three-year term of supervised release. ~ Staff report