Ocala, Florida – Senior United States District Judge John Antoon II has sentenced Howard D. Farley, Jr. (72, Weirsdale) to four years in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised released for passport fraud, aggravated identity theft, and operating as a pilot without a legitimate airman’s certificate. The court also ordered the forfeiture of an aircraft that was seized by the Department of Homeland Security at Farley’s home.
Farley had pleaded guilty in April 2021.
According to his plea agreement, Farley admitted to using the identity of a deceased person to obtain a United States passport and an Airman’s Certificate (pilot’s license). Farley admitted to operating as an airman using the fraudulently obtained certificate between January 4, 2016, until his arrest by federal authorities on November 28, 2020.
Other court documents established that Farley used the identity of a deceased infant for more than 35 years to avoid apprehension in the Nebraska where, in 1985, he had been indicted on federal narcotics conspiracy charges.
The case against Farley’s co-defendant, Duc Hanh Thi Vu, remains pending and is scheduled for the October 2021 trial term.
“The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) has a statutory mandate to investigate passport fraud,” said Peter Kapoukakis, Special Agent in Charge of the DSS Miami Field Office. “We are firmly committed to collaborating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to bring fugitives like Mr. Farley to justice regardless of how long they have been on the run. Strong relationships like those that made this prosecution possible are vital toward ensuring the integrity of U.S. travel documents and protecting our country’s greater interests.”
“By operating aircraft for several years with a fraudulently obtained airman’s certificate, Howard D. Farley, Jr., put the safety of those traveling in our National Airspace System at serious risk,” said Todd Damiani, Special Agent-in-Charge, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General Southern Region. “May today’s sentencing serve as a stern warning that, together with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, we will not waver in our commitment to pursue those who are willing to compromise safety for personal gain.”
“The importance of the U.S. passport system and aviation security procedures cannot be overstated,” said HSI Orlando Assistant Special Agent in Charge David J. Pezzutti. “By using a variety of investigative techniques and leveraging strong partnerships, HSI has helped ensure this criminal faces the consequences of his actions.”
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, with support from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael P. Felicetta.