Drunk Airline Pilots Face Prison

Paris Jackson is supported by her family after speaking about her father during the memorial service for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, July 7, 2009.
AP
A judge Thursday sentenced Two fired America West pilots to prison for operating a jetliner when drunk.

Pilot Thomas Cloyd, 47, of Peoria, Ariz., was sentenced to five years in prison. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge David Young said he had no sympathy for Cloyd, who had been on probation for a DUI just months before his arrest.

Co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 44, of Leander, Texas, was ordered to 2 ½ years in prison, 1 1/2 years of community control and a year of probation. He was also sentenced to community service and fined $5,000. He was also barred from operating an aircraft for five years.

The judge said Hughes has tried to rehabilitate himself, and that played a role in his sentence.

Hughes shook his head when his sentence was read, and let out a heavy sigh as he was handcuffed. Cloyd showed no emotion.

Prosecutors had recommended four years in prison for Cloyd and three years for Hughes, sentences that defense attorneys said were too harsh because no one was injured before their July 2002 arrests.

"It was not a victimless crime and there was a lot of people injured," Young said. "What you did was absolutely wrong."

Hughes' family and attorney James Rubin declined to comment while leaving the courtroom.

When reporters asked Cloyd's wife, Debbie, what she thought of the verdict, she said: "Haven't you people had enough?"

She declined further comment, as did Cloyd's lawyer, Daniel Foodman.