The owner and operator of a Tennessee helicopter sales and repair shop pleaded guilty to attempted aircraft parts fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, according to the Court and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) inspector general. Richard Paul Harper, a UK citizen and owner of Bristol-based Apple International, admitted in a plea agreement on June 16 that he obtained a helicopter with significant damage to its underbelly and switched its fuselage and data plate with that of one that had crashed in New Jersey.
He then marketed the helicopter and tried to sell it to an undercover agent posing as an aircraft broker. Harper was arrested in Los Angeles on January 24, when he returned to the U.S. to attend Heli-Expo 2020. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. Sentencing has been set for October 20.
The case was investigated by the DOT, FAA, and Homeland Security. According to its website, Apple International has been placed into administration and an administrator was on appointed February 6.