American pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino have left Brazil about 4:30 pm, today, aboard a Legacy private jet from Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo. The departure went unnoticed by reporters trying to cover the event.
The news was given later by the US consulate in São Paulo. All reporters were able to notice is that there was no flight scheduled to leave for the United States at the time they were told to have left. The Legacy they flew in doesn’t belong to air-taxi company ExcelAire, their American employer.
The Americans got their passports back, this afternoon, more than two months after they were confiscated by the Brazilian authorities following the collision of the Legacy executive jet they were piloting with the Boeing 737 over the Amazon jungle on September 29.
Before they were handed their documents, today, by the federal police they had to go through a six-hour interrogatory at São Paulo’s Federal Police headquarters.
As expected they were indicted under the Brazilian Penal Code’s article 261 charged with having exposed the Brazilian air traffic security to danger.
Barring any last-minute surprise both should fly back home to the United States before the end of the day.
According to one of the pilots lawyer the crime they are being charged with carries a 2 to 5 year jail sentence. The Federal Police decided that theirs was an involuntary crime meaning that they didn’t have the intention to cause the accident or the deaths of the 154 people aboard the Boeing 737.
Lepore and Paladino left the Marriott hotel, in Copacabana beach, in which they were confined since October 3 very early in the morning in order to fly to São Paulo.
They arrived at the São Paulo Federal Police at 7:45 am and half an hour later had already started their testimony. Their lawyers say the pilots didn’t say a word during the six-hour procedure.
According to the Federal Police, however, the two Americans answered the questions posed by Federal Police chiefs Ramon da Silva, from Mato Grosso state and Rubem Maleiner from Brazilian capital Brasília.
The two American pilots came accompanied by four workers from the American consulate and by their two lawyers, former Justice Minister, José Carlos Dias, and Theo Dias.
While Paladino came dressed up, with a dark suit, his colleague Lepore was wearing a blue shirt with short sleeves.