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Drunken Airline Pilots to Remain in Jail

June 16, 2005

MIAMI (AP) _ Two fired America West pilots convicted of operating a jetliner while drunk were denied bail Thursday and must remain in jail until sentencing next month.

Judge David Young ordered pilot Thomas Cloyd, 47, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 44, held at least another five weeks and set their sentencing hearing for July 20. He said he would issue his decision the next day.

Their sentences could range from probation to five years in prison. The two had been free on bail for nearly three years while they contested the charges, but went to jail immediately after they were convicted last week.

Evidence showed they had spent a night drinking in a bar hours before a scheduled flight from Miami International Airport to Phoenix in July 2002. Screeners noted alcohol on their breaths and the plane was stopped before takeoff.

Objecting to bail Thursday, prosecutor Hillah Katz argued that the pilots posed an unusual risk of disappearing because they have connections to get to planes and can fly them.

Hughes’ wife Debbie told the judge that she wanted her husband free for now so he could help her prepare their two children for his possible imprisonment.

The judge said Hughes ``cared more about what he was doing that day than he cared about the children.″

Both men were stripped of their commercial licenses and barred from flying private planes while on bail.

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