East Brookfield Man Arrested for Piloting Helicopter From Backyard: Officials

The suspect allegedly made more than 50 flights from his East Brookfield, Massachusetts backyard with a revoked license

A Massachusetts man who previously had his pilot's license revoked after he helped steal a helicopter has been accused of making dozens of illegal helicopter takeoffs and landings from his East Brookfield home.

Antonio Santonastaso, 59, was arrested Wednesday in connection to the unlawful flights, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. He allegedly made more than 50 flights from his backyard between April and November of 2018. 

Santonastso’s pilot's license was revoked in 2000 by the Federal Aviation Administration because of his participation in the theft of a helicopter from the Norwood Memorial Airport, officials said.

Despite having a revoked license, the suspect operated a Robinson R-22 helicopter from his backyard, according to Lelling’s office.

When questioned by authorities, Santonastaso allegedly made several false statements about his eligibility to pilot the helicopter. He also allegedly said he was unaware his license was revoked.

Santonastso has been charged with flying without proper certification and making false statements to federal agents. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release. 

Santonastaso will appear in federal court in Worcester on Thursday. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

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