FAA inspector took ‘money and prostitutes’ to ignore violations
On Thursday, a former FAA safety inspector admitted receiving kickbacks in the form of shirts, dinners, money, prostitutes and a plane from top executives at Hansen Helicopters, based in Guam.
During day 19 of the USA v. John D. Walker (owner and CEO) and Hansen Helicopters witness Timothy Cislo, a former $102,000 a year FAA Honolulu FSDO aviation safety inspector, testified that he accepted these bribes in exchange for falsifying multiple certificates of airworthiness for Hansen’s fleet of more than 50 single-engine Hughes 369 turbine helicopters. The company leased them for $40,000 a month each through a collection of third-country offshore entities controlled by Hansen for use as spotter aircraft based on tuna boats in the vast Pacific Northwest. Cislo also said he adjusted the paperwork to help Walker, an FAA-certified A&P mechanic, qualify for renewal of his FAA aircraft inspector clearance.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Hansen operated a fleet of “Frankenstein helicopters,” assembled for as little as $82,000 each, and filled with unapproved parts, falsified flight logs and mismatched nameplates belonging to scrapped planes. scrap recovered from salvage yards. The US government has suggested these practices were at least partly responsible for 30 crashes that killed nine people over two decades. Walker pleaded not guilty.
Earlier in the lawsuit, Marvin Reed, a former executive vice president of Hansen and a defendant in separate related proceedings, admitted that the company had been using unapproved parts for years. “Yes, that’s correct,” he told Marie Miller, the special assistant to the US attorney leading the prosecution.
Reed, along with Hansen operations manager Kenneth “Rufus” Crowe and maintenance manager Phillip “Turner” Kapp, had their cases separated in March and are expected to plead guilty to reduced charges in the proceedings now. scheduled for mid-June. Charges against another co-defendant, Frank F. Litkei Sr., owner of Spares Inc. in Florence, Oregon, were dropped after he died before trial.
Interviewed by Miller on Thursday, Cislo admitted to taking “money and prostitutes” from Hansen between 2009 and 2017. Hansen also shipped Cislo, who lives in Hawaii, a vintage Taylorcraft single-engine plane, which he assembled and flew . Miller produced a collection of emails, primarily between Cislo and Hansen’s Crowe, which the prosecution said showed a clear and ongoing criminal conspiracy and a mutually beneficial, informal and personal relationship. Cislo typically used his personal email address for these communications and admitted to visiting Walker at his Missouri shed.
As part of the case, in 2018 Cislo pleaded guilty to three counts of honest services wire fraud. He has not yet been convicted but could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. He no longer works at the FAA. During his testimony, Cislo called his relationship with Hansen “completely unprofessional and unacceptable. Any safety concerns were thrown out the window, into the trash. I allowed them [Hansen] operate. I looked the other way.”