Mechanic Charged In License Lie


Aug 22, 2002

GREENSBORO -- A federal grand jury has indicted a TIMCO employee recently arrested on immigration charges for allegedly lying about his experience on three kinds of passenger jets, including maintaining such critical components as the engines and landing gears.

Grand jurors said that Percy Vega Sr., 53, a Peruvian living in Greensboro, "falsely indicated he had performed or was qualified to perform work" on the Boeing 767, 737 and 727 airplanes when he applied for a high-level license from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2002.

Vega was among 24 people arrested March 8 on immigration charges at the Greensboro aviation-maintenance plant at Piedmont Triad International Airport. He and 10 others were formally charged Monday in crimes involving perjury, false documents and other misdeeds.

The FAA's Web site shows Vega with a valid "airframe and powerplant" license issued or updated in September.

Vega's indictment suggests loopholes in the FAA's licensing process, but a TIMCO official said Tuesday it does not indicate weakness in the company's quality control.

Despite his license, Vega worked only on aircraft interiors such as seating, never on anything so critical as an engine, said Dave Latimer, a TIMCO vice president.

"He was never in a situation where he was exercising those privileges," Latimer said of the highly technical work permitted by the license, known as "A&P" certification.

TIMCO has a system of checks and balances that would have prevented Vega from working on any structural part of an airplane with his existing skills, Latimer said. All Vega's work on airplane interiors was carefully supervised, he said.

"Everything he did was supervised by a properly trained, certified and qualified supervisor and inspected by a certificated inspector," Latimer said of Vega, a former pilot in the Peruvian Naval Air Forces who unsuccessfully sought U.S. political asylum in the late 1990s.

But the mere fact that Vega allegedly succeeded in deceiving the FAA is a concern to John Goglia, an air-safety advocate and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Goglia, a retired aviation mechanic who lives in Boston, said the repair items Vega is accused of lying about are "bedrock issues" for the A&P license.

"That's the foundation that mechanics build upon," Goglia said of the repair list Vega is charged with falsifying. "It is not insignificant."

Federal officers from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies detained 27 workers at TIMCO on March 8, eventually alleging two dozen were not legally in this country.

The government moved to deport all of them, but also filed criminal complaints against those who got jobs with TIMCO or one of its labor contractors through fraud and perjury.

Previous criminal complaints already had mentioned most allegations against the 11 indicted Monday. The grand jury formalized those allegations and put them on track for trial or other court action.

Vega and another Greensboro resident, Jorge Ruiz-Alonso, 60, a Venezuelan, face the most charges.

In addition to allegedly lying in pursuit of the A&P license, Vega also was charged with possessing falsified Social Security and green cards.

Ruiz-Alonso, a coordinator for one of TIMCO's labor contractors, is accused of providing a fake green card and a false Social Security number to a job applicant. In addition, he allegedly lied about his citizenship this spring to buy a shotgun.Of nine others indicted Monday, four allegedly lied about their status as illegal immigrants on a federal employment form; three were accused of both that and possessing a fake or altered Social Security card; one allegedly had a fraudulent green card and another a falsified passport.

Staff writer Eric Collins contributed to this report.
This is what happens when you lie. If he just told Timco that he has no license he would still be there now. We all know you don't have to have a license to work on an airplane and it's components. What a hypocritical mess…