Christian Desgroux, the North Carolina auto mechanic who posed as a U.S. Army general and piloted a helicopter to the SAS campus in Cary to impress a woman, received a 6-month sentence in federal prison Tuesday, federal prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle handed down the sentence in Raleigh after Desgroux’s guilty plea in June. The 58-year-old was also sentenced to a year of supervised release.
He had faced a maximum sentence of three years and a $250,000 fine.
In February, an agent with the Department of Homeland Security testified Desgroux took a helicopter to SAS headquarters in November, wearing a battle dress uniform and identifying himself as an Army lieutenant general. He told security officers that he was picking up a female employee on orders of President Trump.
While at the SAS campus in Cary, Desgroux told security officers that he had come to take the woman to a classified meeting at Fort Bragg, then flew away with her for approximately 30 minutes before returning to Cary, agent Tony Bell said.
When he later interviewed the employee, Bell testified, she said she assumed Desgroux, then 57, was trying to impress her and start a romantic relationship.
“She said they did nothing,” Bell said in February. “They flew around for 30 minutes. She had no idea he was flying a helicopter to pick her up.”
Bell testified that Desgroux had chartered the helicopter out of Charlotte and told the pilot he had authorization to land at SAS. When it touched down on the software company’s soccer field, Bell said, Desgroux immediately jumped out wearing a uniform and combat patches and three stars, though he had never served in the U.S. Army.
“He saluted the security officers,” Bell said. “They actually saluted him back.”
The woman later told Bell that she had known Desgroux for about 20 years. She knew he was coming to SAS that day but expected him to come by car. They were planning to meet an attorney, Bell said, apparently to seek a patent about a prototype Desgroux had been developing.
But the woman told Bell that Desgroux had been having marital problems and must have assumed she had similar issues because she and her husband live apart.
Bell interviewed the pilot, who said he and Desgroux flew to Durham to refuel after dropping the employee back at SAS. Desgroux told the pilot that he wanted to take a future trip to the Pentagon, Bell said.
Their flight to SAS was the second Desgroux had chartered. Earlier in 2017, Desgroux chartered a helicopter to Jacksonville – again wearing an Army uniform – and had the pilot land at a KOA Kampground so he could meet briefly with a woman there. On that trip, Bell said, Desgroux stated his desire to land a helicopter on an aircraft carrier in Norfolk. He also described himself as a pilot who had flown Apache helicopters during the Gulf War.
Desgroux was born in Chile and became a U.S. citizen in 2016, Bell said. He came to the United States in 1978, moved to Raleigh in 1980 and has had legal status for his entire stay.
He has worked as a mechanic out of his garage on Mt. Vernon Church Road in far north Raleigh, not far from Falls Lake.
GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.
An undated image of Hoda Muthana provided by her attorney, Hassan Shibly. (Associated Press)
Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.
U.S. soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. (U.S. Army/Zoe Garbarino/Handout via Reuters)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Construction crews staged material needed for the Santa Teresa Border Wall Replacement project near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Mani Albrecht)
With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"
But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.
The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.