Gyrocopter pilot could face years in prison

May 20, 2015 6:50 PM by CBS News

Doug Hughes, the Florida man who flew his gyrocopter into Washington, D.C. and landed it on the west front lawn of the Capitol building last month, was formally indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday. Facing six charges, Hughes could be sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison.

The grand jury indicted Hughes on two felony charges: operating as an airman without an airman's certificate, and violating registration requirements involving aircraft. The remaining charges are misdemeanor counts: three counts of violation of national defense airspace and one of operating a vehicle falsely labeled as a postal carrier.

The two felony charges each carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison and potential fines. The misdemeanor charges of violations of airspace each carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and potential fines, while the last misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and fines.

Hughes, 61, is scheduled to be arraigned in D.C. federal court on Thursday afternoon.

The resident of Ruskin, Florida claims he flew his gyrocopter onto to the Capitol lawn on April 15 to bring attention to the issue of campaign finance reform. His flight started in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, according to the government's evidence, taking him through three no-fly zones. Hughes was employed as a U.S. postal carrier, but he did not have authorization to use the U.S. Postal Service emblem on his gyrocopter.

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