The first defendant in an airplane parts fraud case involving former employees of a Lincoln company has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Anthony Vincent Zito, 48, of Saugus, pleaded guilty Thursday to one county of conspiracy to commit fraud involving airplane parts in interstate or foreign commerce, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
Zito was indicted in September along with five other executives or supervisors of WECO Aerospace Systems Inc., an aircraft parts repair and overhaul business.
According to court documents, the firm's customers included private, for-profit aviation companies in California, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Arizona, as well as government entities that operated aircraft, such as the city of Los Angeles and the Department of Homeland Security.
WECO's primary repair station was in Lincoln, and it had a second repair station in Burbank. Officials said Zito started working for WECO in Burbank in 1994, and by 2008, he had become manager of the Burbank facility.
Under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, repairs and overhauls must be conducted in accordance with component maintenance manuals. The manuals direct the steps that a certified aviation repairman must take to complete repair or overhaul of an aircraft part to ensure the highest level of safety and the part's airworthiness, according to the news release.
According to the plea agreement, Zito conspired with others in WECO to conceal certain facts about the repairs from customers and the FAA. Zito was aware that WECO Burbank did not perform some of the tests necessary to comply with the component maintenance manual, used parts that were not approved for service by the FAA, charged customers for used parts as if they were new, and falsely certified on FAA forms that parts had been repaired and overhauled in accordance with the maintenance manual.
Officials said records show that between 2004 and 2007, the total loss to customers at WECO Burbank for repairs and overhauls that were not done properly was approximately $1.38 million.
Zito is to be sentenced May 14 by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller.
Charges are pending against five other former WECO employees: Jerry Edward Kuwata, 60, and Douglas Arthur Johnson, 52, both of Granite Bay; Michael Dennis Maupin, 58, of Arbuckle; Scott Hamilton Durham, 39, of Roseville; and Christopher Warren MacQueen, 53, of Lincoln. Their next court date is set for Jan. 12.