Guilty plea entered for airplane theft

/ Source: The Associated Press

An airborne joyride — 350 miles at the controls of a twin-engine business jet — could give the pilot a prison term and a hefty fine.

Daniel Andrew Wolcott has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft.

On Oct. 9, 2005, Wolcott, then 22, stole a Cessna Citation 7 jet worth $7 million from the St. Augustine/St. Johns County Airport in Florida, authorities said.

Wolcott flew the aircraft to Gwinnett County Airport-Briscoe Field at Lawrenceville, east of Atlanta, near his hometown of Buford, taking along five friends who were unaware the plane was stolen. Although Wolcott is a licensed commercial pilot, he was not rated to fly the Citation, which typically requires two pilots.

Wolcott entered the plea Thursday in federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., a court representative said.

A sentencing hearing is pending. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but a plea agreement means he likely will receive a reduced sentence, said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter.

Wolcott may receive credit for spending nearly two years in jail, Porter said.

Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will drop other charges, including a count of theft by receiving and five counts of reckless conduct in Gwinnett County and a grand theft charge by officials St. Johns County, Fla., Porter said.

The 10-passenger plane belonged to Pinnacle Air, a charter company based in Springdale, Ark.