Joseph Lepore, Jan Paladino, Pilots In 2006 Brazil Crash, Avoid Jail

AP File

Two American pilots involved in one of the worst disasters in Brazil's aviation history were sentenced to community service as a result of the crash, the New York Times reports.

On Monday, Judge Muriol Mendes sentenced the two pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, both of New York state, to four years and four months in prison in a "semi-open" facility. The judge commuted the sentences to community service and allowed it to be served in the U.S., according to the New York Times.

The pilots were flying a private Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet over the Amazon on September 29, 2006 when it collided with a Boeing 737 operated by Gol Airlines, resulting in the deaths of 154 people.

An intense legal battle ensued with Brazilian authorities claiming negligence by the American pilots, and American officials blaming Brazil's air traffic control system.

The smaller jet was damaged, but landed safely, while the jet plunged to the ground and disintegrated on impact.

In 2009, a Brazilian prosecutor asked a judge to reinstate negligence claims against the pilots. The judge threw out those charges but upheld ones similar to America's involuntary manslaughter charges.

In the 86-page sentence, Mendes said the pilots had failed to verify their aircraft's equipment for an hour, an "eternity" in aviation.

A Brazilian air traffic controller was previously convicted in this case on charges similar to manslaughter.

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