Weco Owner Convicted of Fraudulent Repairs
A federal jury has found William Hugh Weygandt, 64, of Granite Bay, Calif., guilty of a conspiracy to commit fraud involving aircraft parts repair. The verdict followed a three-week jury trial before U.S. District Court Eastern District of California. Weygandt is the former owner and president of Weco Aerospace Systems, an FAA FAR Part 145 repair station with facilities in Lincoln and Burbank, Calif. In January 2007, Weygandt sold Weco to Gulfstream Aerospace, which retained Weygandt as president until Feb. 1, 2008. A spokesman for Gulfstream Aerospace told AIN Weygandt is no longer associated with the operation and had no more comment on the situation. Attempts to locate Weygandt for comment were unsuccessful.
During trial it was established that Weco employees at both its Lincoln and Burbank repair stations failed to follow FAA regulations in repairing and overhauling aircraft parts and lacked the proper equipment to perform some of the tests required by the Component Maintenance Manuals (CMM). Weco employees returned falsely certified parts to customers. Evidence showed that Weygandt was aware of equipment needs and knew of the false certifications but continued to operate Weco without taking steps to comply with FAA regulations.
According to testimony at trial, equipment issues were raised directly with Weygandt, as well as in daily production meetings, at which Weygandt was a frequent attendee. On at least two occasions, employees presented Weygandt with specific information about equipment that was available that could perform the necessary repairs and asked to authorize the purchase. On another occasion, Weygandt was provided with a copy of the relevant CMM with portions highlighted where Weco was not performing the required tests because it did not have the necessary equipment.
On each occasion, Weygandt failed to authorize the purchase of any equipment. One witness stated that he asked for equipment so “frequently” without success that he eventually gave up trying.
According to court records Weygandt earned approximately $650,000 in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He then sold his company in 2007 to Gulfstream for $17 million. The estimated cost of the equipment necessary to perform the proper tests was $300,000.
Sentencing is set for February 18 next year. For the conspiracy to commit fraud and fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce, Weygandt faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison; a $500,000 fine; and three years of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take variables into account.
AIN reported the initial situation when former Weco executives Jerry Edward Kuwata, 60, of Granite Bay; Michael Dennis Maupin, 58, of Arbuckle; Scott Hamilton Durham, 39, of Roseville; Christopher Warren MacQueen, 53, of Lincoln; Douglas Arthur Johnson, 52, of Granite Bay; and Anthony Vincent Zito, 47, of Saugus, were indicted by the grand jury on Sept. 29, 2011. The indictment was for conspiracy and fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and for mail fraud. In October last year, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Weygandt with conspiracy to commit fraud involving aircraft parts. Kuwata, Durham, MacQueen and Johnson were also charged in the superseding indictment.
Kuwata, Maupin, and Zito pleaded guilty to federal offenses in connection with the conspiracy and await sentencing. Durham’s and Johnson’s pending indictments were dismissed.