MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The chief pilot of the fatal flight that carried Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife, daughter and three aides had a felony record for mail fraud, according to a published report.
Richard Conry, 55, was convicted in a home construction and financing scheme that resulted in subcontractors not being paid for their work, the Star Tribune reported Friday, citing attorneys involved in the case. He was sentenced to two years in Yankton Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, S.D. Conry was imprisoned in June 1990 and just over a year later placed in a community corrections program in Minneapolis, records show.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash but likely will not determine its cause for months. The NTSB conducts an exhaustive review of the flight crew.
"This is really a stunning revelation," said U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, one of the most influential members of Congress on aviation safety. "It goes to the question of his fitness to fly."
Conry did not disclose on his job application that he was a convicted felon, Mary Milla, a spokesperson for Executive Aviation, said Thursday. Conry had flown for the Eden Prairie-based company since April 2001.
Milla said the application asks whether an applicant has been convicted of a felony in the past five years and that Conry answered 'no.'
U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger said Thursday that his staff retrieved the court file on Conry's fraud case. He declined to say why.
Jim Farrell, a Wellstone campaign spokesman, said he did not think Wellstone knew of Conry's felony conviction.
Wellstone's campaign chairman, Jeff Blodgett, said Thursday he did not know about Conry's conviction. "Everything we've heard about the pilot is that he was a very experienced, certified pilot," he added.
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