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Man who flew California news, ambulance choppers under alias pleads guilty to identity theft

A man who worked for years as a Northern California helicopter news pilot without a legal pilot's license has pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft.

Federal prosecutors say John Dial, of Skaneateles, New York, entered the plea Thursday. He faces two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Authorities say that from 2009 to 2012, Dial used a phony name and forged documents to fly for an air ambulance service in Susanville and as a news pilot in Sacramento and San Francisco.

Court documents say he made about 300 flights, the last two under his real name for KCRA-TV in Sacramento.

Authorities say Dial has a long criminal history, including a 1994 conviction for providing false information to the FAA, and has used some two dozen names over the years.

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