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Indictment: Woman used other pilot's credentials to rent, later crash aircraft

STOLEN PLANE.jpg
Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 18:32:41-04

MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — A California woman is in the Medina County jail on charges of insurance and identity fraud in connection with the alleged unauthorized use of an airplane that she crashed last summer. Karina Gaynutdinova, who has addresses in Los Angeles and Lomita, California, was indicted by a grand jury on charges that she allegedly used another pilot’s credentials in order to rent — and later crash — an aircraft from Skypark airport in Wadsworth in August 2021.

The grand jury handed up the indictment in May but Gaynutdinova was taken into custody late last week. She has not made her first court appearance yet. She faces one count of insurance fraud, one count of identity fraud, and one count of unauthorized use of a vehicle, a second-degree felony charge that was enhanced because of the age of the victim.

The indictment comes roughly 10 months after Gaynutdinova reported a mid-air stall and crashed a Cessna 150M aircraft into a cornfield near Skypark airport in rural Wadsworth. According to the NTSB’s preliminary report, the pilot, later identified as Gaynutdinova, reported that shortly after take-off, the airplane was not climbing normally and the aircraft began alerting her of a possible stall, followed by a significant and rapid decrease in RPM.

Gaynutdinova attempted to glide and perform a soft-field landing into the cornfield but the aircraft nosed over shortly after touchdown. The plane was a total loss.

Months later, investigators would determine that Gaynutdinova should not have been flying the aircraft at all, according to court records.

“I have been in the legal practice in Medina County in one phase or another for nearly 30 years. I can honestly say this is the only case that I am aware of involving these types of charges and an aircraft,” said Medina County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson.

According to court records, the CEO of Skypark and his attorney alerted county sheriff’s investigators in late March that they had discovered some alleged improprieties surrounding Gaynutdinova’s crash and insurance status. A sheriff’s department incident report states that Gaynutdinova’s pilot’s insurance policy had expired on August 9, 2021, two days before the crash. Additionally, Gaynutdinova’s current insurance policy did not take effect until the afternoon of August 11 — three hours after the crash.

Airport officials reportedly told investigators that their internal security and customer management systems check against a pilot’s insurance and certification status. The keys to an aircraft are only made available after is a pilot deemed to be properly certified and insured. Additionally, the system repeatedly alerts pilots if their insurance policies are nearing their expiration dates.

“What I am led to believe through the investigation is that information needs to be populated into the system in order to have access to the keys,” Thompson said.

According to court records, Gaynutdinova used the login credentials of another pilot without that pilot’s authorization, which allowed her access to the keys of the aircraft. Additionally, Gaynutdinova signed multiple documents acknowledging Skypark policies and her need to maintain insurance.

Thompson said the investigation was the culmination of the investigatory efforts of multiple agencies, including OSHP, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, the FAA as well as investigators from the insurance company.

“Each of those investigating agencies adds something to the mix and it’s part of our responsibility to sort through that and to glean through the salient facts that support either a charge or not a charge,” Thompson said. “There is no benefit to prosecuting someone because of a tragedy unless there are basis for criminal charges to be prosecuted.”

According to FAA records, Gaynutdinova, ironically, obtained her commercial pilot’s license in March.