Prosecutor - Pilots accused of trying to fly drunk in rehab

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Associated Press WriterMIAMI (AP) -- Two America West pilots accused of being drunk when they tried to fly a jetliner are in alcohol rehabilitation and are set for release a day after their next scheduled court date, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Lawyers for Thomas Porter Cloyd and Christopher Hughes have requested a Wednesday hearing to ask a judge to move their Aug. 1 court appearance because the pilots will be in alcohol rehabilitation in Arizona until Aug. 2, Assistant State Attorney Ronald Ramsingh said.

The men entered the 28-day program days after they were arrested July 1 in Miami, Ramsingh said. He said he didn't know which center the men were in.

Also, court documents obtained Tuesday showed that Hughes settled a $122 bar tab about six hours before their scheduled flight.

A receipt from the bar showed that Hughes, the co-pilot, paid the tab at Mr. Moe's in Miami with a credit card, the documents showed.

It was not immediately clear who and how many people besides the pilots were on the tab, but James K. Rubin, Hughes' attorney, told The Associated Press that other people were with Hughes and Cloyd that night.

Rubin declined further comment and did not respond to questions about his client being in rehabilitation or the request to reschedule the hearing.

William M. Pearson, attorney for Cloyd, didn't immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

According to a receipt from Mr. Moe's, Hughes paid for seven 34-ounce beers, seven 16-ounce beers, a Happy Hour draft beer, one martini and a Western Burger between 10:49 p.m. and 4:22 a.m. The receipt is part of the court record in the arraignment of Hughes, 41, and Cloyd, 44.

Dave Bello, a manager at Mr. Moe's, declined comment Tuesday because the restaurant is under subpoena.

Both pilots had blood-alcohol levels above Florida's legal limit of 0.08 after they were ordered to return their Phoenix-bound plane carrying 124 passengers to the gate at Miami International airport July 1. Their flight had been scheduled to leave at 10:30 a.m.

The pilots have pleaded innocent to a felony count of operating an aircraft under the influence and a misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence. The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked their licenses.

On Monday, prosecutors asked a judge to revoke bonds for the two pilots, saying they returned to Arizona without the court's permission.

Ramsingh said he's not trying to have the pilots jailed in seeking to revoke their $7,000 bonds, but wants them to ask the court's permission before leaving Miami-Dade County.

The defense attorneys said they believed their clients had the right to leave the area under their contracts with the bondsman.

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