State Charges Dropped for Fake Pilot

Federal courts will handle case against French man from now on

Local charges against the French man accused of impersonating a pilot were dropped this morning.

But that doesn't mean the man who authorities say entered the cockpit of a U.S. Airways Flight and sat in the jump seat behind the captain's seat is off the hook.

The state charges including trespass, forgery and false impersonation were dropped so that Philippe Jeannard of La Rochelle could be federally prosecuted on fraudulent identity, impersonation, forgery and trespass charges.

Jeannard, 61, was wearing a shirt with an Air France logo and captain's epaulets on his shoulder, had a ticket for a Florida-bound flight March 20 and asked at the check-in counter for an upgrade, authorities said. He became upset when he was told there were no available seats, authorities said. A supervisor asked if he was an airline employee, and "the defendant responded that he was," authorities said.

A flight attendant noticed that he had an Air France ID card and asked "as a matter of courtesy" if he wanted to speak to the pilots, authorities said. The pilot and co-pilot told authorities that he entered the cockpit while they were performing their preflight duties and checks and said he was a Boeing 747 pilot, officials said.

Prosecutors said the gate agent saw the defendant sitting in the jump seat behind the pilot and told him that if he was going to sit there he would have to go back to the check-in gate to complete paperwork and verifications. He left the cockpit but became verbally abusive and was told he could not continue on the flight, authorities said. He later acknowledged to a manager that he was not a pilot, prosecutors said.

In an interview with police officers, prosecutors allege, he said his mother had been an Air France employee and he had falsified her ID card by adding his name, photo and status as a crew member.

During a court appearance Monday, Jeannard didn't dispute any of the accusations against him. Yet even though he waived his right to a probable cause hearing, his attorney, Elizabeth Toplin, claimed that doesn't mean he'll plead guilty to any of the charges.

"He agreed that there was probable cause," she said. "That's as far as it goes here."

Toplin did not speak on what her client's motive was when he allegedly tried to pass as a pilot.

"I don't have any more information for you at this point," she said.

Jeannard remains in federal custody on $1 million bail, reported NBC10's Harry Hairston.

A federal grand jury now must indict Jeannard on the charges by the end of the month for him to be brought to trial, Hairston said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us