Canadian flight student indicted for stealing plane, flying over U.S.
A Canadian man accused of stealing a single-engine plane from a college in Thunder Bay, Ont., in April and piloting it across three U.S. states has been indicted by a federal grand jury in St. Louis.
Adam Dylan Leon, 31, was indicted Thursday on federal charges of interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, importation of a stolen aircraft and illegal entry.
Leon faces a maximum of 20 years and six months in prison. He is alleged to have told officials that the act was an attempt at suicide.
The Cessna 172 four-seater plane flew across Lake Superior and over Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois before landing in Missouri with about 30 minutes' worth of fuel left in the tank. The trip spanned 1,250 kilometres.
Two F-16 jets from the Minnesota National Guard tracked the plane as it crossed the U.S.-Canadian border, according to North American Aerospace Defence Command.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said that after the plane landed, Leon got a ride from a passer-by to a store, where he bought a Gatorade and sat at a booth until authorities arrived. He was arrested without incident.
The plane was taken April 6 from the Aviation Centre of Excellence at Thunder Bay's Confederation College, where Leon was a student, and flown away the same day.
Leon was born Yavuz Berke in Turkey before moving to Canada, changing his name and becoming a naturalized citizen.
Earlier Thursday, he appeared in U.S. federal court for a hearing on whether he was competent to stand trial. His lawyer, public defender Lucille Liggett, had asked for a mental examination in April, to which the judge agreed. Neither she nor prosecutor D. John Sauer of the U.S. Attorney's Office would say what the mental evaluators found. Sauer said that is typically under seal.
Through Liggett, Leon did not dispute that he is fit to stand trial. He was ordered detained pending further proceedings.
With files from The Associated Press