Pilot who landed gyrocopter at US Capitol facing 6 charges

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Gyrocopter Pilot Faces 9.5 Years for US Capitol Landing

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Florida man who piloted a gyrocopter through miles of America's most restricted airspace before landing at the U.S. Capitol is now facing charges that carry up to 9 1/2 years in prison.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said Wednesday in a statement that a grand jury has indicted Douglas Hughes on six charges. He is scheduled to appear Thursday in federal court in Washington.

Hughes said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon that he had arrived in Washington and would be making a statement after his appearance in court.

16 PHOTOS
Florida man gyrocopter US Capitol
See Gallery
Pilot who landed gyrocopter at US Capitol facing 6 charges
UNITED STATES - MAY 21: Doug Hughes conducts a news conference outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, May 21, 2015, after pleading not guilty to six counts regarding his landing of a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol in April. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Carrying an umbrella that says "shame" on it, Douglas Hughes of Florida leaves federal court in Washington, Thursday, May 21, 2015. Hughes, who flew a gyrocopter through some of America's most restricted airspace before landing at the Capitol pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the six charges he faces. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A gyrocopter seen after it landed on the West Front of the US Capitol on Capitol Hill causing the building and visitor center to be locked down Wednesday afternoon in Washington DC, United States on April 15, 2015. Reports state that a manned aircraft or gyrocopter landed on a lawn near the US Capitol. Police have arrested the pilot. (Photo by Erkan Avci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Douglas Hughes of Florida holds up a design for a stamp that was given to him by an artist as a gift, while meeting with reporters outside federal court in Washington, Thursday, May 21, 2015, . Hughes, who flew a gyrocopter through some of America's most restricted airspace before landing at the Capitol pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the six charges he faces. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Various officials take a close up look at the scene where a small helo or gyrocopter landed on the US Capitol South Lawn area April 15, 2015, in Washington, DC. A man identified as Doug Hughes, 61, flying a gyrocopter illegally landed his aircraft on the west lawn of the US Capitol Wednesday, triggering street closures around the building and prompting a police investigation.'The US Capitol Police continues to investigate, with one person detained,' USCP officer Shennell Antrobus told AFP. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Capitol Hill police officers and other officials lift a gyrocopter that landed on the US Capitol South Lawn, on to a trailer, April 15, 2015, in Washington, DC. A man identified as Doug Hughes, 61, flying a gyrocopter, illegally landed his aircraft on the west lawn of the US Capitol Wednesday, triggering street closures around the building and prompting a police investigation. Hughes is described as a mailman, and a logo appearing to be that of the US Postal Service was visible on the tail fin of the aircraft. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Capitol Hill police officers lift a gyrocopter that landed on the US Capitol South Lawn, on to a trailer, April 15, 2015, in Washington, DC. A man identified as Doug Hughes, 61, flying a gyrocopter, illegally landed his aircraft on the west lawn of the US Capitol Wednesday, triggering street closures around the building and prompting a police investigation. Hughes is described as a mailman, and a logo appearing to be that of the US Postal Service was visible on the tail fin of the aircraft. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A member of the U.S. Capitol Police Bomb Squad works to check and secure a gyrocopter that landed on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol April 15, 2015 in Washington, DC. Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old postal worker from Ruskin, Florida, landed the lightweight helicopter on the Capitol lawn to protest against government corruption and to promote campaign finance reform. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A gyrocopter sits on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol with members of the U.S. Capitol Police nearby April 15, 2015 in Washington, DC. Doug Hughes, 61, from Ruskin, FL., landed the gyrocopter on the West Lawn and was arrested immediately. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A police device rolls toward a copter device, right, that landed on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. A small one-person helicopter has landed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, prompting a temporary lockdown of the Capitol Visitor's Center. Capitol Police approached the aircraft shortly after it touched down and took its pilot into custody. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A gyrocopter that illegally landed on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol is loaded onto a U.S. Capitol Police trailer April 15, 2015 in Washington, DC. Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old postal worker from Ruskin, Florida, was quickly arrested after he landed the lightweight helicopter on the Capitol lawn to protest against government corruption and to promote campaign finance reform. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A small helicopter sits on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. ?The U.S. Capitol Police is investigating a gyro copter with a single occupant that has landed on the grassy area of the West Lawn of t?he U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Capitol Police continues to investigate with one person detained and temporary street closures in the immediate area. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A small helicopter sits on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. ?The U.S. Capitol Police is investigating a gyro copter with a single occupant that has landed on the grassy area of the West Lawn of t?he U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Capitol Police continues to investigate with one person detained and temporary street closures in the immediate area. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A small helicopter lands on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, after landing. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A small helicopter sits on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, after landing. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


"We are looking at a case where there was no injury and no property damage, and the requirements as far as what the prosecution is asking for include years of jail time. The penalties that they are demanding are not consistent with the damage," he said.

Hughes, who took off from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was arrested April 15 after he landed on the Capitol's West Lawn. Hughes has said his flight was intended to call attention to the influence of big money in politics. The stunt also led to a congressional hearing and exposed a gap in ensuring the safety of buildings in the city.

The charges Hughes now faces include two felonies: operating as an airman without an airman's certificate and violating aircraft registration requirements. Those charges carry a maximum of three years in prison. He is also facing three misdemeanor offences of violating national defense airspace, each carrying a maximum of one year in prison.

Hughes, 61, who had been employed as a postal carrier and lives in Ruskin, Florida, also faces a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle falsely labeled as postal carrier. The tail section of Hughes' gyrocopter carried a Postal Service logo. That charge carries a statutory maximum of six months in prison.

The charges Hughes faces also carry potential fines. The indictment says that if he is convicted of one or both of the felonies, prosecutors will ask that a judge order him to forfeit the gyrocopter.

During a court appearance the day after his arrest, Hughes was ordered placed on home detention. He is not allowed to return to Washington except for court appearances and meetings with his attorney, and must stay away from the Capitol and the White House. He is also barred from operating any aircraft.

---

Associated Press reporter Tamara Lush contributed to this report from St. Petersburg, Florida.

---

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners