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Document and Benefit Fraud

Virginia pilot pleads guilty to making false statements

NORFOLK, Va. - Peter Surina, 29, of Norfolk, Va., pled guilty today in Norfolk federal court to charges of making false statements, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies.

According to court documents and information disclosed in court, between June 21, 2005, and January 24, 2008, Surina submitted to the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, 17 Airman Certificate and/or Rating Applications.

Surina submitted these certificates and applications for various purposes, including obtaining pilot licenses and ratings to operate certain types of aircraft. These applications are made available to the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, for the purpose of identifying potential security risks. On each of these applications, Surina stated that he was a citizen of the United States and that he was born in Binghamton, New York.

On July 2, 2009, Surina established a flight instruction school known as Norfolk Flight Center LLC, located on the general aviation section of the Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk, Virginia. On July 9, 2009, he submitted to the Norfolk Airport Authority an application for a general aviation access badge. On the application, Surina stated that he was a citizen of the United States and that he was born in New York. The information on this application became part of a database which was accessible by the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration to conduct a background check prior to authorizing the Norfolk Airport Authority to issue a general aviation access badge to Surina.

The statements made by Surina on all of the aforesaid applications were false. In fact, he was born in the former Republic of Czechoslovakia, now the Slovak Republic, and is not a citizen of the United States.

Surina will be sentenced on May 21, 2010.

The case was investigated by the United States Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.