Thief River Falls, Minn., teen pleads guilty to theft of airplane
Geoffrey Biteman pleaded guilty Monday to theft of an airplane in Roseau, Minn., as part of a deal that will see him serve 60 days in jail and 60 days on electronic home monitoring, said Michael Grover, a Roseau County prosecutor.
The 18-year-old was charged with unlawfully taking a 1971 Cessna 150 from the Roseau airport and flying it without permission of the owner. He flew it several times into the Thief River Falls airport during the summer and fall and left it at a St. Thomas, N.D., farm where he got injured when he rolled a sugar beet truck in October. Investigators said Biteman apparently learned to fly mostly on his own and admitted he had no pilot's license.
The plane was moved to Fargo where it was inspected and put up for sale by the owner.
Biteman attended high school in Roseau and has been living in Thief River Falls this year, investigators said.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Biteman for piloting an aircraft without a pilot’s license, said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory.
During a hearing Monday in state district court in Roseau, Biteman and a judge agreed to terms of a plea deal on the motor vehicle theft charge that has a top sentence of 10 years in prison and $20,000 fine.
Biteman has no serious criminal record and could have qualified for a stayed sentence under state guidelines, Grover said. His sentence will include a deferred sentence of 13 months in prison which could be imposed during five years of unsupervised probation if he violates its conditions, Grover said.
Biteman also must pay about $1,000 in fines and fees and any restitution determined by the airplane’s owner.
Biteman has been in the Roseau County jail since his arrest in October and will complete his behind-bars sentence by Nov. 30 and much of his home-monitoring term before he’s formally sentenced in January, Grover said.
He’s also due to be sentenced Dec. 16 in Clearwater County for stealing a horse trailer in Bagley, Minn., in June.