Paperwork puzzle obscures owner of plane that crashed in Medford
Two weeks after a small plane crashed on the front lawn of a Medford home, details about who owned the aircraft are still unclear.
Mathew William Thompson, 38, and Zachary Wayne Moore, 34, both of Boise, Idaho, were arrested by the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team after the June 8 crash in the 2300 block of Whittle Avenue. The men face charges of unlawful import/export of marijuana extract, unlawful delivery of marijuana extract, unlawful possession of marijuana extract, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and recklessly endangering another person.
Details of the arrest have been sealed in Jackson County Circuit Court records, and the National Transportation Safety Board has yet to release a preliminary report about the crash.
NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said Thursday that a preliminary report “is expected shortly,” but he did not provide a time frame.
In the year leading up to the crash, at least three parties tried to claim ownership of the 1947 Beechcraft 35 Bonanza — with none insuring it.
Lamon Loucks of Marsing, Idaho, was the last individual to hold the plane’s disputed title, but he first learned his plane was involved in the Medford crash when a reporter from KBOI-TV in Boise connected the plane’s lapsed registration to Loucks’ address.
“I thought it was parked at the Caldwell airport,” Loucks told the station in a June 10 phone interview in which he denied any liability or knowledge that the plane was being used. A call to Caldwell police was not returned.
Loucks’ lawyer, David Leroy, told KBOI-TV last week that his client reported the plane stolen June 11.
The disputed liability was a point of frustration for homeowner Michael Gibson, who voiced his frustration to avideographer the day after the crash.
“I have to have insurance on my car or I’m in trouble with police, but you can fly an aircraft from the airport with no insurance,” Gibson said June 9. “How is that even possible?”
In a June 13 report from KTVL in Medford, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the FAA requires air carriers to maintain “economic authority” — issued through the U.S. Department of Transportation and usually demonstrated with proof of insurance.
“But for a private individual, we don’t have a regulation that requires insurance,” Kenitzer told the news station.
The pilot in the crash, Thompson, knew the plane’s owner.
Loucks told TV reporters in Boise he’d agreed with Thompson on a price of $20,000 for the plane, and a $10,000 down payment had been paid.
“I was waiting for the last half of the payment. I think it’s crazy, absolutely crazy,” Loucks said.
“He was recently visited by the Department of Homeland Security to get his version of what was going on with this particular plane,” Leroy said of Loucks. “Those agents assured him that he was not a suspect. They ... had been following the movements of this plane for the last several weeks.”
Leroy said the plane is “of uncertain title” — and was twice used as loan collateral before it made it into his client’s hands.
The Beechcraft was one of two aircraft that previous owner Nathan Ward Pyles used as collateral on an $80,000 loan to Pyles’ now-bankrupt building business, Shiloh Management Services of Boise. Records show that Leroy also represents Pyles in a since-dismissed criminal case surrounding the Shiloh’s bankruptcy.
“I had a client who took title to the plane when the prior owner of the plane defaulted on a loan that my client had made to the original owner,” Leroy said of Pyles. “However, that original owner got tied up in a bankruptcy proceeding, so instead of my client getting clear title, the trustee of the bankruptcy proceeding made a claim against the aircraft as well.”
Leroy also represents Pyles in a still-pending lawsuit filed by the Securities Bureau of the Idaho Attorney General’s Office Department of Finance in Ada County, Idaho, according to Idaho court records. According to an article in the Idaho Statesman, state authorities alleged that Pyles through his business, Shiloh, engaged in a Ponzi scheme that used money from new investors to pay old investors, along with engaging in “affinity fraud.”
“Pyles lulled some of his investors into a false sense of security by holding himself out as a religious man,” according to a court document filed Oct. 25.
According to documents filed last year in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Idaho, a lawyer representing Shiloh bankruptcy trustee Noah Hillen sought to seize the 1947 Beechcraft from Loucks and Thompson by citing the plane’s improper registration. The complaint filed April 19, 2018, also mentions a 1964 Cessna 210 Centurion Loucks seized as collateral after Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings began.
“As titled vessels, any security interest in the Beechcraft or Cessna must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration,” Hillen’s complaint says, adding that “Loucks never registered his security interest in the Beechcraft or Cessna.”
The Beechcraft’s FAA registration showed that registration had expired May 4.