Pilots Avoid Jail in Brazil Crash
SÃO PAULO, Brazil (NYT) - A Brazilian federal judge on Monday sentenced two American pilots involved in a fatal air crash over the Amazon rain forest in 2006 to community service.
Judge Murilo Mendes sentenced the pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino, to four years and four months of prison in a "semi-open" facility for their role in the collision between the Legacy private jet they were flying and a Gol Boeing 737-800, which resulted in 154 deaths. But the judge commuted the sentences to community service to be served in the United States, where the pilots reside.
Brazilian authorities accused the pilots of turning off the Legacy's transponder moments before the accident and turning it on again only after the crash. In a deposition taken in the United States by Brazilian authorities via videoconference the men denied that the equipment had been turned off.
Judge Mendes, in the 86-page sentence, said the pilots had failed to verify the function of equipment for more than an hour, a length of time he called "an eternity" in aviation.
An Brazilian air traffic controller had been previously convicted in the case of a crime equivalent to manslaughter.