Trial set for pilot arrested at Rutland airport

Planes sit at rest at the Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport, June 5, 2018. (Robert Layman / Staff Photo)

BURLINGTON — A Sudbury man, who lost his pilot’s license following his conviction as a drug smuggler, is due to go on federal trial in Burlington for a midnight flight into a Rutland County airport in April. Angelo P. Efthimiatos, 48, flew a Piper aircraft into the closed Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport about 12:15 a.m. on April 10 as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration stakeout team watched, federal court records show. He has been charged with flying without a license. Judge Christina Reiss set a Sept. 11 trial date and also denied a defense motion seeking to have Efthimiatos released from prison pending trial. She ruled he remains a risk to flee. The DEA said in court papers it had received information that Efthimiatos might be arriving by plane at the airport in North Clarendon that night. No drugs or large amounts of money were found in the plane Efthimiatos appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington this week. When Reiss asked Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven L. Barth how they were proceeding, he said his client wants a trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia A.P. Cowles estimated the jury trial could take up to four days. Reiss asked the lawyers to see if they could agree on certain facts in the case before the trial begins. Any possible pre-trial resolution of the case appears jammed up by federal authorities in the Southern District of Iowa, who want Efthimiatos for violating the terms of his supervised release for his drug convictions. Efthimiatos’ was arrested in Iowa in Feburary 2013 for using a small aircraft to transport drugs between California and the East Coast. He was arrested after 55 pounds of high-grade marijuana was found in his plane, and admitted it was his fourth drug-related cross-country smuggling trip, records show. The marijuana was valued at about $220,000, and he and his brother Michael forfeited two planes in connection with the case. Following Efthimiatos' guilty plea, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an order July 1, 2014 revoking his pilot license. Efthimiatos, through his wife, filed an appeal, but it was denied, court records show.  Efthimiatos failed to surrender the paper copy of his license, the DEA said. Efthimiatos completed a nearly five-year federal prison sentence for drug conspiracy April 7, 2017, and was placed under federal supervision for five years, officials said. They said his supervised release was transferred to Vermont. He could face up to three years if convicted in Vermont on the new case and another two years in Iowa if his supervised release is revoked, Barth said. However, Barth said this week that based on the federal sentencing guidelines, Efthimiatos might get only a few months in Vermont and he has served more than three months since his arrest. Barth tried unsuccessfully to get Reiss this week to overturn an earlier decision ordering Efthimiatos detained pending trial. Reiss noted Efthimiatos has four prior criminal convictions, including two for violation of probation, and there is a pending arrest warrant. Barth had argued the defendant’s wife, Nancy Dellamonte, and their daughter have both been suffering without him being at home. Dellamonte also has some health issues, including possible double knee replacement, but the surgery was postponed indefinitely due to her husband’s arrest, Barth wrote. Dellamonte is on Social Security disability and without her husband at home, is having trouble making ends meet, according to Barth. Barth also noted Efthimiatos was in the process of renovating the home they bought in September 2016, so his wife and child are living in a partially renovated residence, Barth said. Efthimiatos has reported health issues that the nurses have not been able to address, and is forced to sleep on the floor at Northwest State Correctional Facility because of overcrowding, Barth said. Reiss said she is willing to move up the trial date. Cowles noted that Efthimiatos knew he was not supposed to leave Vermont. He opted to take the out-of-state flight just a few hours after being visited at home by his federal probation officer, said Cowles. The indictment noted that in Spring 2018, Efthimiatos was the pilot for several short late-night trips between Newport State Airport in Rhode Island, Nantucket Memorial Airport in Massachusetts and the Rutland airport after all had closed for the evening. A review of FAA records shows the airplane’s registered owner is Robert Walsh, of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The records also list Robert A. Brait and Stephen G. Kiarsis under “other owners names” for the plane manufactured in 1976.

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