Published January 08, 2015
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.