21 May 2015

Gyrocopter pilot faces over 9 years in prison: ""I simply hope by putting my freedom on the line, others might realize how precious their freedom is and join those of us engaged in this fight to preserve and protect our government of, by and for the people"

 The Florida man who allegedly piloted a gyrocopter onto the Capitol grounds last month to protest big money in politics has been indicted by a federal grand jury on six charges, which could land him nine-and-a-half years in prison if he's convicted on all counts.
Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from Ruskin, Florida, caused a stir at the Capitol when he landed a small manned aircraft on the West Lawn in violation of multiple no-fly zones and without having notified authorities of his plans.
Hughes quite literally planned to send a message to Congress and the rest of America in protest of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that paved the way for super PACs and unlimited amounts of money to pour into political campaigns -- he carried letters for every member of Congress urging them to reform campaign finance laws. 
On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted him on two felony counts -- one count of "operating as an airman without an airman's certificate" and another count of "violating registration requirements involving aircraft," according to a release from the D.C. U.S. Attorney's office, which said an investigation had determined that he has no pilot's license or registration for the craft.
He also faces four misdemeanor charges: Three counts of "violation of national defense airspace" and one of "operating a vehicle falsely labeled as a postal carrier." His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday at the D.C. District Court. 
    Hughes' attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 
    Hughes flew the craft from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, passing through three no-fly zones on the way but still evading NORAD's detection systems. The gyrocopter was his, but it bore the logo of his employer, the United States Postal Service, without authorization, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
    His landing prompted widespread curiosity across Capitol Hill and the rest of the nation, but some concern as well, over the apparent security holes in the airspace surrounding the Capitol that Hughes' flight uncovered.
    He was immediately arrested upon landing, but was released to home arrest in Florida shortly after his first court appearance. The U.S. Attorney's office said he's been banned from returning to D.C. except for legal matters surrounding his case, and Hughes is not allowed near the Capitol or White House.
    The case is currently under investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Postal Service Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Park Police.
    Hughes defended the move in a Washington Post op-ed this weekend, likening the security threats of an aircraft landing unannounced near the Capitol to the threats posed by money in politics. He also said he would accept whatever penalty he receives, and that he hoped the gesture would be enough to galvanize the public on the issue. 

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