Pilot in PTC drug smuggling case found not guilty
Charter pilot says he was told clients were in the oil business
A Texas charter pilot was found not guilty this week of drug charges for flying two men and more than 380 pounds of cocaine into Peachtree City’s airport.
Donald Fontana, a retired Delta pilot, claimed in federal court that he did not know his clients on the August 2009 flight were smuggling drugs. Instead, the clients told him they were engaged in the oil business, according to testimony in court.
The August 2009 shipment was intercepted by federal and local drug agents after a high-speed chase that stretched from north Peachtree Parkway to Ga. Highway 54 near Piedmont Fayette Hospital.
One of the drug smugglers testified for the government about Fontana being paid $17,000 in cash for the flight to Peachtree City, but defense attorneys alleged that was a similar amount to what Fontana’s legitimate clients paid him for charter flights.
Rene Perez, who has already pled guilty to federal drug charges, testified that during one of the several flights the odor of marijuana could be smelled easily.
He also testified that the bags loaded into the plane weighed between 400 and 600 pounds.
Fontana’s wife testified there were never any drugs in their home.
Other co-defendants in the trafficking case have also pled guilty including Rene Perez’s nephew, Adrian Perez, and Jorge Olivo, who picked up the drugs at Falcon Field when the shipment arrived from Zapata, Texas.
Olivo drove the Ford Explorer that was stopped by authorities with the 380 pounds of cocaine inside. He also pled guilty to using a weapon while committing a drug crime.
Olivo faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years, while Rene Perez faces a sentence of 20 years and Adrian Perez 10 years.