Young Minnesota man pleads guilty to stealing plane

An 18-year-old man from Thief River Falls has been accused of stealing a Cessna 150 and taking it on several joyrides. The man faces a felony conviction for motor vehicle theft, as well as a misdemeanor charge for using an aircraft without authorization. The teen does not have a pilot’s license, but he was able to fly the single-engine plane to different cities in northern Minnesota and North Dakota. The stolen aircraft belongs to an Air Force major that is currently stationed in Afghanistan.

According to police reports, an investigation began on Oct. 9 when a pilot allegedly saw two people land in the Roseau airport. The two young men then used a courtesy car that was specifically intended to be used by the airport’s pilots. The pilot also told police that he had seen the teen flying the plane on occasion. Mail addressed to the teen was found inside the Cessna.

Police investigating the suspicious activity noticed that the plane had gone missing on Oct. 17. An officer contacted the Thief River Falls airport, and a manager explained that the young man had been landing there throughout the summer. The manager expressed his suspicions about the situation, which were mainly caused by the teen’s use of regular gasoline cans as opposed to the aviation fuel kept in the hangar. The plane was eventually traced to St. Thomas, North Dakota, where the teen had been working as a truck driver on a farm.

The teen entered a guilty plea. The plea agreement includes 60 days of jail time, 60 days under home monitoring, over $1,000 in fees and fines, and as many as five years of probation. The sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6.

A guilty plea can often help reduce the possible sentence that a defendant faces. A talented criminal defense attorney can help a person decide whether or not a guilty plea is the best option. In this case, the outcome is likely the most lenient punishment that the young man could have ended up with.

Source:, “18-year-old Minnesota man with no pilot’s license accused of stealing plane for joyrides” No author given, Nov. 25, 2013

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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