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Fri, Oct 07, 2005

Student Pilot Pleads Not Guilty In Two-State Joyride

Philippe Patricio Says He Didn't Steal Plane And Fly Drunk

The 20-year-old man who made headlines last June by allegedly stealing a C172 and taking two friends on a wayward three-hour nighttime flight -- while drunk -- pleaded not guilty to the charges against him Wednesday in a New York courtroom.

According to media reports, Phillippe Patricio entered the plea against felony charges of possession of stolen property and reckless endangerment, and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, for his June 22 after hours landing in Westchester, NY.

Patricio's blood-alcohol level was .15 when he landed, according to New York officials. He is currently being held without bond.

Attorney Edward Camacho, who is representing Patricio, said the case has been blown out of proportion in today's security-sensitive climate. "The case is being handled more harshly that it would have been handled had it occurred before 9/11," he said.

"I think there is a bit of hysteria surrounding this case and I think that has affected most everyone who has decided what to do with him in the court system," said Camacho. "If this was 1999 or 2000, I think this matter would be addressed entirely differently."

Westchester County DA Jeanine Pirro maintains the case against Patricio does involve "national security," as Patricio broke into the Danbury (CT) Municipal Airport after hours and gained access to an aircraft. She said she would "expect the criminal justice system to react in a way consistent with the danger posed here."

As was previously reported in Aero-News, Phillipe Patricio also faces several charges in Connecticut, including one felony charge of circumventing airport security, and misdemeanors of first-degree reckless endangerment and operating an aircraft under the influence.

Patricio's 16-year-old passengers, Andrew Mentsch and Thomas Cascio III, were previously granted accelerated rehabilitation by a Danbury judge for their roles in the ordeal. Each faced a single count of circumventing airport security.



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