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Court Rules Pilot Can Keep Aircraft After Being Arrested For Running Alcohol

December 22, 2013 - Alaska District Court Judge, Patrick Hammers ruled that Ken Jouppi, age 70 owner of Ken Air LLC an air taxi operator in Fairbanks could keep his Cessna 206, N72222 after he was arrested and charged with aiding in the attempted transportation of 7 gallons of beer into a dry county. 

In April 2012, the Alaska State Troopers arrested Jouppi and his passenger at Fairbank’s airport after a search of the Cessna 206 revealed there was beer onboard headed to the small village of Beaver which is a dry county.


Troopers also executed a search warrant on Jouppi’s business. Troopers had been watching Jouppi for several months. At that time the aircraft was confiscated and hangar by State troopers in Anchorage. Back in October Jouppi was convicted for allowing a passenger to load alcohol onto a plane bound for a dry county.

Judge Hammers sentenced Jouppi to a mandatory minimum sentence sentenced of three days in jail and a $1,500 fine. The court had not determined at that time as to weather or not to confiscate Jouppi’s Cessna 206. Jouppi argued before the court he was unaware at the time that his passenger had brought beer onboard the aircraft and was storing it within his packages.

Judge Hammers said at the October sentencing he thought the aircraft should be confiscated in order to send a message to other aircraft operators. “If you do it (help alcohol smugglers) and get caught, you lose your airplane, a message that it’s not worth it.” However, Judge Hammers rescinded his early thinking after Jouppi's lawyer, Robert John argued in court that his client’s aircraft never left Fairbanks International Airport for the town of Beaver. 

Judge Hammers said “Forfeitures are not favored in the law. A statute which imposes forfeiture must be strictly construed. Its effects cannot be extended beyond its plain, ordinary, and usual meaning, applied with common sense. In this case, plain, ordinary and usual meaning of the word import doesn’t apply to beer sitting on a tarmac bound for a destination”.


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