Brazil Never Again for American Pilots Back in the USA

Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, the two American pilots of the Legacy executive jet that collided with the Boeing 737 over the Brazilian jungle causing Brazil’s deadliest air accident ever are back home in the US.

It’s been a 70-day ordeal in which they had their passports taken away and remained locked in a hotel room in Rio until they were arraigned and charged with involuntary manslaughter just before taking a private jet, also a Legacy, back home.

Both were received this Saturday, December 9, as heroes at the Long Island MacArthur Airport with red carpet, cheers, applause and tears of a crowd of about 200 people, which included family, friends, colleagues, bosses, politicians and all the survivors of the Legacy – they were able to land safety in an Air Force base – with the exception of a executive from Embraer, the company that sold the plane.

During the welcome-back ceremony, ExcelAire’s president Bob Sherry, their boss, asked for a minute of  silence in memory of the Boeing’s victims. He also used the occasion to lambast the Brazilian authorities.

Sherry asked Brazil’s Federal Police to step aside and let the investigators do their work. He pondered that the technical personnel should be allowed to do their probe without political pressure in order to prevent this kind of tragedy to happen again.

Although Lepore and Paladino before getting their passports back had to sign a paper committing themselves to return to Brazil in case the Brazilian authorities want to question them further or to serve jail time in case they are convicted, it’s doubtful they will set foot in Brazil ever again.

Commenting on the subject, their lawyer in the United States, Robert Torricella, said during the welcome party that "any speculation is really inappropriate." But on Friday, upon hearing that the pilots had been charged with involuntary manslaughter he had commented:

"The decision of this investigator to accuse Joe and Jan of a crime without ever hearing their testimony is incredibly absurd."

For House Representative Peter King, who also was at the ceremony, everything will be done by the US authorities so that all charges against the pilots be dropped. According to him there’s no chance they will return: "There’s absolutely no need for anyone to be going back to Brazil."

In Brazil, lawyer José Carlos Dias also guaranteed that any legal procedure from now on will be done exclusively in the US. He explained: "

"There is an agreement between Brazil and the United States that allows Brazilian authorities to travel to the US to hear them personally. Or they can simply make sworn declarations, which have judicial value. We still don’t know when this is going to happen. I believe that perhaps around January."

According to Dias even if the pilots are convicted of a crime and get a jail sentence they will be able to get an alternative sentence in the United States.

Lepore, 42, said, "It feels good to be home" and Paladino, 34, echoed with a "It feels great. I’m glad to be home." But that’s the extent of their declarations up to now.

Lepore, 42, was received by son Michael, 8, and Nicole, his three-year old daughter who carried a covey of red, white and blue balloons while another girl raised a sign saying the return of the pilots was the best Christmas gift they all could get.

ExcelAire’s vice president, David Whimer, who was aboard the Legacy when it collided with the Boeing defended the pilots actions during the flight: Have our pilots acted correctly he rhetorically asked to then respond:  "The answer is unequivocally yes."

The American pilots’ departure from Brazil had scenes reminiscent of hot pursuit movies. They left the São Paulo Federal Police headquarter in a van from the US consulate.

Chased by several media vehicles the consulate car’s driver rushed to the Cumbica International airport at speeds up to 80 miles, zigzagging and cutting other cars in dangerous maneuvers. Two motorcycles ended up being hit by the media vans.

Everything had been pre-arranged by the Consulate. The plane was ready to take off. The consular van entered through the airport’s VIP gate, which was immediately closed shutting the reporters outside while six policemen on horseback protected the entrance. Later, the Brazilian air authority confided that the measure had been taken to heed a request from the US consulate.

The Federal Police Case

In response to criticism by the ExcelAire’s president, the Brazilian Federal Police released a note in which they state that they only started to investigate the Boeing accident after they were asked by the Justice to do so.

They also informed that they have summoned a team of aviation experts to help them sort out the case. As for the charges levied against the pilots, the note explains, they are the exclusive responsibility of the police chief who presided the inquiry.

The Federal Police also issued an official note on the testimony by the two Legacy pilots:

"This morning, the Legacy aircraft’s pilots were at São Paulo Federal Police’s headquarters and were interrogated. They exercised their right to remain silent, assured by the Constitution, even though they were informed that this was a moment in which they could exercise their defense and give their own versions and explanations about the facts. Federal policemen from the Coordination of Operational Aviation, observed the interrogation.

The exercise of their right to silence does not change the decision ordering the return of their passports since that was a strict juridical resolution, issued by  Brasí­lia’s Regional Federal Court, and complied with by the federal police.

The Legacy aircraft’s pilots were arraigned on charges considered in article 261, paragraph 3, combined with articles 263 and 258, all from the penal code, which contemplate the crime of "exposing to danger vessel or aircraft", in the culpable negligence modality, aggravated by the result "death". The sentence set for this crime is the same one applied to involuntary manslaughter, increased by a third, according to the Penal Code’s article 258.

The decision to charge them was made based in element of proof found in the police inquiry’s proceedings which point to the lack of necessary caution which is expected and required from pilots performing a flight.

The investigations haven’t been completed yet and other behaviors may also be blamed as causes of the accident.

The police inquiry should be sent to Sinop/MT’s Federal Justice, December 13, with a request for additional time in order to continue the investigations."


  • Show Comments (20)

  • andy murphy

    a) Can Anyone tell me, if the Legacy with the wings removed,can fit into a Galaxy to be transported anywhhere for further repairs?

    b) Rick, I do not think that any Brazilian Insurance Company is involved in this. Remember, the Lregacy was taken delivery by the ExcelAir in S.Paulo. It means the price was F.O.B. ie; the freight and the insurance are to be paid by the buyers. I would imagine that ExcelAir has its own International Insurance companies,like Lloyds to take care such accidents.Besides, it is too expensive to insure anything in Brazil!

  • andy murphy

    To Brazilian Girl

    You are absolutely right,kid.Not only the North Americans,but also the Europeans criticize the Brazilians relentlessly. At least the criticisms of the Americans are consturctive and well meaning.And my Brazilian friends are as good professionals as that of any country in the world.They criticize me all the time too and when it suits us, we join hands to criticize the Europeans for the ills of the Americas!!. I thought your post was a nice one and keep your chin up.Remember that Brazil is not all that underdeveloped and unfortunately some of your countrymen like to keep that myth. Take care

  • TQ

    Bo you wanker
    you’re an illiegal too Bo my American friend. Doesn’t it occur to you that all those years ago your great grandma lay on her back in her EU brothel with her legs open 7 night a week to make the money to travel to the mighty USA on a cargo ship with the rest of the rats. Then…..when she got there thats all she knew who to make a living. I’ve lived in the USA for 10 years and its a 3rd world country for sure. Corruption, Deforestation, Xenophobia on a grand scale…and al the while ILLEGALS doing all the actual work while you lot buy even more food from Walmart. I left the USA cos it was SH*T. At least in Brazil people are genuine and have personality. I assume you are having a tough time in Brazil because like most yanks you can’t speak Portuguese (or English), and unlike most Yanks you have been unable to turn the ‘millions invested’ into billions stolen, which is what your scumbag government and people do to just about every country on this earth. Have a nice day!!!!!!!

  • bo

    wrong again dumbass…
    Illegal in Brazil???? LMAO!!! Oh jony, jony, jony, unfortunately my partners and myself have invested millions in this corrupt, bribe-ridden, beurocracy riddent, cesspool called brazil, we’re quite legal, thank you, CPF’s, RNE’s, pessoa juridica’s, and millions of dollars in brazilian assets.

    The only bone I have to pick Jony is with someone so naive, or worse yet, looks for statistics where real numbers are impossible to come by and then uses that horseshit information to try and justify his/her own cause.

    Kinda like having real numbers on the amount of people that cheat on their taxes, don’t really think those people are jumping to participate in surveys that would reveal that, get my drift youngster?

  • jony

    TO BO-shitter
    That is exactly my point “bo” shitter you can’t differentiate Mexicans from Peruvians from Brazilians etc etc…
    The Number from the immigration and Naturalization already take into account a certain percentage to be illegal immigrants …those are not my number… if you have a bone to pick, call your congressman. You still haven’t given your reference source for the 2 million Brazilians in the USA? That’s because your reference is taken from your red neck ASS. Ohhh yeah one more thing your CPF number to show that your are legal in brazil!!! ha ha I doubt you are… You probably married a highly educated Brazilian woman while she was going to university À¢€¦moved to Brazil because she couldnÀ¢€™t stand living in your shithole À¢€¦and know you find yourself unable to even get a job in brazil with your middle school educationÀ¢€¦ and here I am working in my third À¢€œUS PatentÀ¢€Â in your neck of the woods! Ha ha ha ha ha À¢€¦.

  • bo

    yeah dumbass..
    Those are the OFFICIAL statistics, kinda hard to have REAL numbers when people are ILLEGAL!! They don’t volunteer to participate in census’ Einstein! Where are the rest of the brazilian population in the U.S.??!! Where’s atlanta georgia?? There are thousands upon thousands there!! Ever been to Marietta Georgia?? I just got back from the states, and was in a small town, population 100,000, in an obscure northeastern state that is certainly not known for it’s brazilian population, and saw a group of brazilians inside Best Buy that said that they, and many of their friends, live there!! You can take these bullshit statistics and throw them in the trash, because they’re no where close to reality my friend.

    If you look at OFFICIAL statistics about the numbers of illegal mexicans, you’ll only see they claim a few million….we all know better now don’t we??

    As far as your question, what do brazil have to do with the U.S.’s immigration policy, my response was in reference to the idiotic statement made by a little girl saying that [b]ONLY[/b] brazilians have the right to complain about brazil!!! I guess us Ex-pats that have businesses in brazil, pay taxes in brazil, have children in brazil, don’t have the right to complain about things we don’t believe is right simply because we weren’t born there?? Yet in our own homeland we see millions of ILLEGALS protesting in our streets and DEMANDING their rights??? When one thinks about it you just have to shake your head.

  • Jony

    Hey Bo you need to smell the coffee… what is your CPF number?
    What does Brazil have to do with the State’s immigration policy problems???
    You and others have repeatedly mentioned that there are 2 million Brazilians illegal in the states…but nobody mentions sources??? Not too convincing coming from a culture that canÀ¢€™t even find our own country on the world map; Much less differentiating Portuguese speaking Latin Americans from Spanish speaking. Lets face it we never gave a damn before; we are not going to start nowÀ¢€¦!
    Here are the official statistics on Brazilians living in the USA:
    New York City estimated—– 150,000
    Washington DC——————-10,000
    Total Estimated Brazilians —– 405,000
    The official USA statistics show that 65% of the Brazilian women are College educated and although a great percentage of the Brazilians have College degrees, they donˢ۪t have sufficient language skills required to pass state boards in their profession or simply are discriminated.
    Out of the 405,000 Brazilians in the USA an estimated 20% are illegal or about 81,000 immigrants. Donˢ۪t get me wrong, if they are illegal they should be deported immediately, no doubt about it, but that is a very different picture from what have been said over and over again in this site.

  • bo

    the ignorance…
    [quote]In my opinion North Americans should have more respect for Brazil. It is not because Brazil is a country in development, with its difficulties to get over, that you guys from a wealthy and “well governed” country are allowed to tell whatever you want about Brazil. The only people who can criticize Brazil are us, Brazilians. Each monk in its own branch. It is appalling the way North Americans refers to Brazil, really.[/quote]

    Wow, what a complete abscence of reality and logic. So only brazilians can criticize brazil? And foreigners that live in brazil, own businesses, have brazilian children, can’t complain huh?

    What about the millions of [b]illegals[/b] in the United States that not only complain, but [b]demand[/b] their rights!!! What frickin’ rights do they have? They’re there [b]ILLEGALLY[/b]!!! They have [b]one right[/b], to go back home!!

    Some of you are so thin skinned it’s humorous. Brazilian girl must be just that, a little girl. Wake up and smell the coffee honey, millions of your own people are living in other countries illegally, leaching off the systems and welfare of other countries with many their primary objectives of taking whatever they can and contributing as little as possible. Do ya think that just may be [b]ONE[/b] of the reasons others tend to voice their disgust at the two-faced, unreciprocated policies and ideals of the not only the brazilian gov’t., but also many brazilian ex-pats!

  • Guest

    Hey Rick Ricardo!!! You don’t know shit!!!!

  • Rick

    Brazilian law requires liability insurance for Brazlian registered planes, which this one wasnÀ‚´t; Reta 1,2,3,4, etc, including the pilot, pax, stuff on the ground, etc.; hull insurance for air taxis is or has been at least, typically 1% of hull insured value per month. Expensive. I just canÀ‚´t believe this Legacy was not insured for aircraft loss. If it was financed it had to be covered. To have made this trip uninsured would go against all norms.

  • me

    To Brazilian girl
    [quote]You shouldn’t forget how everything started in Brazil under Portugal’s government.[/quote]

    Yeah right… This was “only”, like, 500 years ago? So it’s “understandable” that Brazil still suffers from this yoke, of course…

    We also can’t forget CIA and USA, plotting to take away Amazon and undermine Brazil’s stability…

  • Rick

    Was pilot error a factor? Not been established yet. There is so much you guys donÀ‚´t know about Brazilian insurance and Brazilian law pertaining thereunto. If indeed insurance wonÀ‚´t cover it, any CPA could tell you that the bill will be paid for by the U.S. taxpayers in one way or the other.

  • Ralph M

    Legacy 600
    The last I heard the plane is parked on the ramp at
    the jungle airstrip where Joe and Jan left it.
    Someone removed the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and
    the Flight Data Reorder (FDR) for examination. FDR
    went to Canada and CVR to Washington for TSA analyses.
    It is doubtful that the plane can be flown back to SP
    for repair at the Embraer factory as the impact surely
    did extensive damage throughout the left wing.

    The report I saw said likely it will be stripped for
    parts and left. Would make a nice flight simulator
    for a Brazilian school.

    The wing structure may be such that it cannot be
    removed from the fuselage and reassembled easily,
    i.e., unbolted and reattached. To truck it back to SP
    may not be feasible. Some type of airlift may be
    possible such as heavy helicopter. Maybe lifted to a
    barge on the Amazon and floated to near SP.

    I understand that an element of the Brazilian
    government impounded it. ExcelAire paid $25,000,000
    for it and has no plane, of course. No word regarding
    insurance. If it can be returned to Embraer, the
    repair would be extensive and expensive, and require
    lots of examination and inspection all over.

    Keep in mind that many air crews from all over come to
    Embraer to take delivery on similar planes. All of
    them are watching the proceedings. None of them want
    to be hit or detained either. They bring a lot of
    money to SP (not in a form easily stolen!) This money
    feeds the families of 18,000 Embraer employees.
    Almost certainly a lot of it goes to other Brazllian
    companies which make parts and provide services for
    Embraer. I hope whatever Braziian ATC needs too
    improve safety for all is provided soon!

    If someone has better information about the plane, I
    am sure there are many of us who would like to know.


  • smokedsalmon

    Cheaped out
    As far as I know the plane is still in Brazil, and will continue to stay there. Rightfully so, in my opinion. It is my understanding that excelaire cheaped out on their insurance policies and are not covered for ‘human error’. It is my hope that the plane be sold and the proceeds distributed to the families of the victims aboard the Gol plane. Sadly, though, 25 million dollars is nowhere near enough compensation – after all, what price can you put on a human life, or the loss thereof?

    Given Excelaire’s tendency to look out only for it’s principals and their wallets, one can only wonder if they will also drop the ball on providing the long term mental health care that I’m quite sure the pilots and their families will need.

  • alltheway

    Does anyone know who has/where is the executive jet these days ?

  • Guest

    to Allen Brown
    Note to the Brazilians,
    Nothing in this analogy below should be construed as disrespectful to the victims and their families, on the contrary the intent is to express their frustration in face of such a tragedy and yet having to put up with such stupid idiotic self-righteous minds of some

    I tell you why Allen Brown… Its because this commercial airline have been making this same freaking flight for 1000 years!!! Using the same air corridor at the same altitude stopping in the same cities 4 times a week…that is why… Here is a little story so you can understand… Suppose your head is a locomotive full of shit.. and you take your shit 4 times a week from Houston to (lets say Georgetown, Texas) because we all know now, thanks to Keith Peshak, that they use a lot of shit on their daily basis. But you are quite familiar with this track because this is the track you use to deliver your shit for the past 1000 years!!!. Meanwhile there’s a company in Switzerland that is buying a locomotive all the way in McAmy Texas… the two Swiss conductors never heard anybody speaking English before so I’m sure they brought their little pocket dictionary with them as a symbol of their preparedness… they don’t know the physical size, the traffic or the rules of the USAÀ¢€¦ but heck, it canÀ¢€™t be worse than from Lauterbrunnen to Gimmelwald back home?… So after they leave the manufacture in McAmy an old timer conductor tap them on the shoulder and tells them to make sure you use the “good route”…they try really hard to find the two words À¢€œ(good) and (route)À¢€Â in the dictionary but damm it took soooo loooongÀ¢€¦ they knew they had a long way ahead of them and because they are Swiss they know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line!!!À¢€¦Well they actually didnÀ¢€™t know that but the Germans told themÀ¢€¦ and so Allen Brown they hit your locomotive going in the wrong track À¢€¦the rest is historyÀ¢€¦ now who was on the right track you or the two incompetent Swiss assholes?

    Note to Keith Peshak
    Keith, would like to see some interaction between you and Embraer and The Brazilian authorities.
    Do they know you exist? Do you have a site in Portuguese? Do you have Reps down there? Have you approached Embraer before? Why in the world doesnˢ۪t every plane is equipped with this system?
    Please right something about it and let us know.

  • Brazilian girl

    Thank you.
    At least you are kind with us. After leaving in Europe for over two years I can assure that Brazilian people are as clever or even more than any other people in the world. It is just that we weren’t lucky since beggining as you brothers from North were.You shouldn’t forget how everything started in Brazil under Portugal’s government.

  • Brazilian girl

    In my opinion North Americans should have more respect for Brazil. It is not because Brazil is a country in development, with its difficulties to get over, that you guys from a wealthy and “well governed” country are allowed to tell whatever you want about Brazil. The only people who can criticize Brazil are us, Brazilians. Each monk in its own branch. It is appalling the way North Americans refers to Brazil, really.

  • Allen Brown

    Why does every one say the smaller hit the larger one .
    could it be the smaller one was able to turn faster than the larger one and did so to prevent the midair crash .

    it is like everone talkes that the polits just ramed the other plane jus to see what would happen !!!!

    yes all judges are full of it thies days and my home state Texas has a bunch of them .

    know that people are dead and some company (only in the US i might add) is going to have to pay out money
    it will be fixed , but Brasil still has bigger things to repair , sure the money will be pushed through , but some how it will be spent on a condo in SP or end up in a bank in the name of the mother in law of the genneral in the brassilian air force ,
    later another plane will hit another and it will start all over again

  • Keith Peshak

    See how we do it
    Sometimes a contrast helps to understand. Letˢ۪s look at a Municipal Court here in America, as a model for Brazil, should they choose to aspire to ours as an example of the way to do things.

    I live in Georgetown, Texas which is 25 miles north of the state capitol. This is a town of about 35,000 people which are milked by its Municipal Court for $1,700,000 USD per year for traffic fines. I was arrested and brought to trial for operating a peddle bicycle without a license plate on a quiet street. There is no federal or state law, or county or city ordinance requiring that peddle bicycles have a registration. I was not allowed to call witnesses because, the prosecutor said, it would be inconvenient for witnesses to appear (motion quashed by the Georgetown Municipal Court judge). I was not allowed to introduce state law as evidence (submission disallowed by the Georgetown Municipal Court judge). He even proclaimed that the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure does not apply in his court (Article 45 addresses Municipal Courts and invokes the remainder). The trial was held in secret (the judge excluded witnesses from the court). There was no court reporter, and the judge precluded the use of tape recorders and cell phones, even computers (because they might record). I was given a fine defined by state law as a felony level.

    I appealed to Williamson County Court de-novo (do over). The judge there said that the only two pleas that he would accept from me were guilty and guilty. He said that his job was to make it as difficult for me as possible. This was recorded by a court reporter. I filed for a change of venue.

    Visiting judge was assigned. Same thing as Georgetown Municipal Court, with the Georgetown Municipal Court prosecutor prosecuting, but with a court reporter to take down what everybody said. The Georgetown police officer testified under oath that the bicycle was a Honda 150 cc moped (which would, under law, require a license plate). The video tape from the Georgetown Police Department of the À¢€œcrimeÀ¢€Â had been destroyed by the police department. The thing is, Honda has never made a vehicle with a 150 cc engine and peddles. The judge assigned À¢€œno fineÀ¢€Â. The Georgetown Municipal Court prosecutor pleaded that I could sue the city for false arrest, and pursue the officer for perjury, unless I was assigned the status of a criminal. The judge assigned a fine of $1 USD.

    Might I suggest that, if you are looking for justice in a court room, you seek it in the wrong venue. The place is biased where the combined muscle of the well funded state comes against the weakness of the accused, and picks and chooses which of its laws it will recognize. If you want a particularly egregious continuing example of that, might I suggest Georgetown Texas. Be careful whom you use as an example to aspire to.

    Now, what happened was a systems failure, the controllerˢ۪s radars were an unreal display of real aircraft, the TCAS (radars) aboard each aircraft failed totally to ever see the other airplane, the FAA equipment TSO is wrong (and the technical people all know that). You want to fix this, or do you want to move to Georgetown Texas?

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