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Thu, May 28, 2009

Airport Owner Admits Embezzling FAA Funds

Guilty Plea Could Mean 2 Years in Prison

To those of us who have worked in or around the airshow industry for many years, this story comes as a bit of a shock -- a sad one. One of the favorite figures in an elder airshow age, the man who ran one of GA's best small-town airshows, is in big trouble with the law.

The 87-year-old owner of the Sussex County Airport in New Jersey has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $375,000 in FAA grants intended for airport improvements.

The New Jersey Ledger reports that Paul Styger, who has owned the airport since 1953, pocketed money intended for runway and facilities upgrades. Since 2004, Styger had applied for and received more than $3.1 million from 6 federal grants. Authorities said he began embezzling in 2007. The issue came to light when a construction company sued Styger for $539,000 in work completed on the runway, but that Styger did not pay.

Styger's Lawyer, Anna G. Cominsky, told reporters "Mr. Styger has accepted responsibility today for his conduct and he looks forward to putting this behind him".

Until 2004, the airport was the home of the Sussex Air Show, which was billed as "The Biggest Little Airshow in the East."



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