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  1. They're still at it. https://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/real-scoop-fraser-valley-man-linked-to-helicopter-smuggling-suit-says REAL SCOOP: Fraser Valley man linked to helicopter smuggling, suit says KIM BOLAN Updated: August 30, 2019 The helicopter alleged to be at the centre of an alleged international drug smuggling attempt is pictured taking off at Vancouver International Airport in 2013. FLICKR/SPECIAL TO THE HERALD SHAREADJUSTCOMMENTPRINT Okanagan reporters got some court documents earlier this month in Penticton, laying out details of an alleged cross-border helicopter smuggling operation involving B.C. men. On Thursday, I found documents in a related B.C. civil forfeiture lawsuit, laying out even more details. So far, no one on the Canadian side of the border is facing criminal charges. But there are U.S. suspects in custody. I don’t know yet if this alleged smuggling operation is linked to one specific criminal organization in B.C. but am continuing to investigate it. Here’s my story: B.C. wants rural property linked to helicopter smuggling forfeited KIM BOLAN Updated: August 29, 2019 The B.C. government wants the owner of a rural Fraser Valley property to forfeit his acreage because he was allegedly involved in a major cross-border helicopter drug-smuggling operation. The director of civil forfeiture filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming Stephen Michael Michaelson was the pilot of a helicopter that tried to pick up a large load of methamphetamine in Washington State in June. The helicopter was later found on Michaelson’s 33-acre property on Henderson Road just north of the U.S. border near Cultus Lake. On June 11, the helicopter aborted a landing near Winthrop, Wash., after U.S. agents watched several suspects toss “188 kilograms of methamphetamine in five bags from their vehicles after departing the landing zone,” the suit says. The RCMP had been notified of the suspected smuggling operation the day before by U.S. Homeland Security and tried to intercept the helicopter after it crossed back over the border into Canada. The RCMP’s plane saw the helicopter “parked in the shadows beneath a tree in a clearing in British Columbia and upon being discovered by the RCMP departed the clearing and took evasive action in an attempt to lose RCMP surveillance before eventually landing at a large hangar on the property,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Michaelson exited the pilot side of the helicopter and entered the hangar/warehouse and then went into the residence.” Michaelson was later arrested in his truck after leaving the property he bought in July 2017 for $1.8 million. Officers found his pilot’s licence on him, as well as $27,000 in Canadian currency, “the majority of which was bundled with elastic bands in a manner not consistent with standard banking practices.” Police also found a GPS and flight logbook. Michaelson was arrested but released. He has not yet been charged. Also arrested and released the same day was a man named Marty White, who lives in a trailer on the property and had been observed with Michaelson, the court documents say. The RCMP searched the Henderson Road property on June 13. In White’s trailer, they found “an Uzkon 12-gauge shotgun in the closet with a loaded magazine inserted,” as well as 747 grams of marijuana in vacuum-sealed packages and documents related to White’s work on the property. In the main residence, police found “boxes of ammunition, various flight documents, a document containing 62 different encoded and non-encoded GPS coordinates in the U.S. and Canada.” “The majority of the U.S. coordinates were located in northern Washington and included the coordinates for the landing zone,” the director’s suit says. There was also a document denying entry into Canada in the name of one of the U.S. suspects, a fraudulent Homeland Security decal for the helicopter and counter-surveillance devices. Officers also seized “three large double refrigerator-sized vault safes which contained approximately 160 various types of firearms.” Inside the hangar was the helicopter seen by police, another Jet Ranger helicopter, a Camaro, Jeep, Toyota 4Runner and a number of boats, trailers and two safes. The civil forfeiture agency alleges that Michaelson’s property is “an instrument of unlawful activity,” including conspiracy to import controlled substances, careless storage of a firearm and that his interest in it should be forfeited to the government. Michaelson, who lists his profession as “businessman” on land title documents, has not yet filed a statement of defence. He has no criminal record in B.C., according to the online court database. Postmedia has confirmed that he is the same man whose 38-year-old wife Jenny Vu was murdered in a targeted Vancouver shooting in December 2011. Her three-year-old child was in the vehicle with her when she was gunned down in front of the home she shared with Michaelson. No one has ever been charged in the murder. [email protected]
  2. Any information on this story? https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/no-one-hurt-after-heli-skiing-chopper-rolls-in-blue-river-1.5058262
  3. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/colin-martin-drug-smuggling-sentence-prison-1.4729857 The most interesting part of this entire business is that now it's legal, the price has crashed and you can't give the stuff away. Oregon is flooded with the stuff according to the news.
  4. To an outsider that comes as a bolt from the blue. Was this a long-term plan, or a more recent strategy since it was sold? That's a lot of people to put into the Vancouver job market. https://www.skiesmag.com/press-releases/standardaero-announces-canadian-centres-excellence-helicopter-mro-services/
  5. I just loved this comment on PPRuNe on the HNZ contract in Oz... So there you have it guys and gals!
  6. At least he has the integrity to tell the truth and admit what he was doing. Jail is such a waste of peoples lives. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/b-c-man-admits-to-flying-helicopter-full-of-ecstasy-pot-across-border-but-says-he-was-doing-so-to-save-his-town
  7. And yet more convictions. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/canadian-in-helicopter-drug-smuggling-ring-pleads-guilty/
  8. Still going on. http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2015/08/27/bc-man-allegedly-transported-pot-and-ecstasy-to-us-by-helicopter/
  9. What is going on today in the helicopter business exactly mirrors Ayn Rand's work of fiction. But just ask any of the people currently getting laid off, or facing the prospect if the story recounted there bears any resemblance to the senior management or owners of the companies that currently (or formerly) employed them?
  10. For anyone with some time on their hands, have a read of this book and see what happens to business when it is taken over by incompetents, frauds and fakes who know nothing about the industry, its workforce, or its customers. Then equate it to the current global situation throughout the helicopter business. Have fun...
  11. Did the name ever get released for this pilot? I know lot's of people who might fit this description, but have never heard anything more about it.
  12. Arnprior native was a pioneering helicopter pilot THE OTTAWA CITIZEN APRIL 22, 2012 STORYPHOTOS ( 1 ) Donald MacLean Donald W. G. MacLean Born: Arnprior, Ont., June 18, 1932 Died: Oct. 21, 2011, in Kingston, Ont., of prostate cancer Donald MacLean was one of the earliest helicopter pilots to fly on Canadian supply ships, servicing remote outposts on the North Atlantic. Don joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as soon as he was of age, and did his basic training in Alberta, then learned to fly high-performance jets. After leaving the air force, an opportunity arose to join a newly formed Air Transport Command unit of helicopters, supplying air defence bases in Canada and North America. The pilots, flying Sikorsky H-19 helicopters, were used to airlift materials required to build the Mid-Canada Line, an air defence warning line stretching from Labrador to British Columbia. In the 1950s, using helicopters to fly off ships and to determine the thickness of ice in the North Atlantic Ocean was an innovation. It enabled vessels to create a passage through the ice and reach remote outposts that were previously inaccessible. Don would fly out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, up the Labrador coast to Ungava Bay, and down into Hudson’s Bay, then into Arctic territory, where very few people had been before. In 1962, Don was asked by the Department of Transport to establish and command the helicopter base at Prince Rupert, B.C., which serviced the coast, from Ketchikan, Alaska, to the north end of Vancouver Island. They flew in all kinds of weather, far beyond the safe limit, into the Queen Charlotte Islands. When there were emergencies — a lighthouse keeper who had to be rushed to a hospital in the midst of a terrible storm — Don would not send one of his other pilots. He would, instead, elect to go himself, often accompanied by his friend and chief engineer. Both were well aware of the dangers involved and that they might not return. Soon it became apparent that a larger multi-engine helicopter with full amphibious capability would better service this rugged and remote coastline, and a Sikorsky S6IN was purchased. After 37 years with the Department of Transport, Don finished his career as chief of Aircraft Registration and special Flight Standards in Ottawa. In later years, he took up sailing, and commenced building a Reliance 44 sailboat in his backyard. Despite a serious accident when he fell and injured his spine, he made a full recovery. Completion of the boat was delayed, but eventually, as neighbours and friends watched in amazement, the huge boat was lifted by crane over the roof of the house and was en route to its new home at the Trident Yacht Club in Gananoque. The Macleans moved to Kingston and spent summers at the yacht club, where Don was known as a formidable racing opponent. Their winter home was in Florida, where, after a day of golf or flying model airplanes, Don could often be heard in the evening playing the keyboard, a skill acquired during his enforced idleness after the boat accident. Don was very modest about his accomplishments, but, as a pioneer in the helicopter field, he blazed a trail that others could follow with much greater comfort and safety than he experienced. He leaves his wife, Diana, and children Diana, Bonnie and Doug. “Fair winds and Godspeed.” DIANA FULLER, His daughter © Copyright © The Ottawa Citizen Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Arnprior+native+pioneering+helicopter+pilot/6499540/story.html#ixzz1snHSzZgD
  13. ORNGE president was paid $1.4 million per year Published On Thu Dec 22 2011Email Kevin DonovanStaff Reporter ORNGE president -- paid $1.4M a year -- steps down More on The Star's investigation into ORNGE ORNGE air ambulance boss Dr. Chris Mazza was paid $1.4 million a year, making him the highest publicly paid official in Ontario. The Star is revealing this after two weeks of stonewalling by the air ambulance service. Health Minister Deb Matthews called Mazza’s salary and others at the non-profit ORNGE “outrageous, shocking and unacceptable.” That salary puts him $600,000 ahead of the highest paid hospital chief in the province and almost $65,000 ahead of the president of Ontario Power Generation. Mazza left his post on indefinite medical leave Thursday, departing from the “crystal palace,” the Toronto airport area headquarters where he once enjoyed a cold smoothie delivered to him at 3 p.m., fitness facilities and fine meals paid for by ORNGE. Forensic auditors from the province, with orders from the health minister to “follow the money,” have been sent in to his well-appointed ORNGE offices to find out if public dollars were misspent at the agency created to help sick and injured Ontario residents. “When you consider the financial pressures in health care and the pressures on health-care workers, it is very hard to see taxpayers’ money spent on outrageous salaries,” Matthews said in an interview. The Star obtained Mazza’s current annual salary, but was unable to discover the salaries of at least five other top ORNGE officials. None is listed on the province’s Sunshine List. ORNGE said Thursday it has provided information to the province, but due to privacy laws cannot release the information. Matthews, asked to comment on the salaries, would only say that, as of Thursday, she has all of the executive pay packages (including bonuses) at ORNGE, but privacy rules forbid her from releasing them. She would not provide Mazza’s salary, but did say his was the most “outrageous.” The forensic auditors from the Ministry of Finance have been asked to determine how much of the executive compensation at ORNGE comes from public sources and how much from private. One former board member, who now works internationally for ORNGE, designed the compensation package. Two weeks ago, the Star launched a series of stories on ORNGE, its founder, Mazza, and the level of care it is providing. The first story dealt with a spider web of for-profit companies that the non-profit ORNGE had created. In short, those companies had the effect of shielding top salaries from the public eye of the Public Sector Salary Disclosure List. The Star has also revealed that this web of companies created by Mazza has received $6.7 million from the Italian company that sold helicopters to ORNGE. ORNGE, in its defence, maintains that no public money has been used on any of its for-profit initiatives. It says it is not required to disclose salaries for that reason. A spokesperson said the money was raised by issuing bonds. What ORNGE will not discuss is where the interest payments to investors in those bonds are coming from. The forensic auditors will be looking to see if any of the $150 million that taxpayers contribute to ORNGE each year pays that interest. One of the for-profit companies Mazza created was called ORNGE PEEL. Wednesday, the peel began to unravel at a late-night meeting at the “crystal palace.” Board members of the profit and non-profit (some people sit on both boards) met. Mazza had given talks via webcam and in a town hall during the week, telling employees that his attackers were jealous of him and that people were just not ready for the type of revolution in emergency medicine he wanted to bring Ontario. By late Wednesday evening, a decision was made that Mazza would take medical leave. Information in this story comes from documents and also interviews with ORNGE officials, pilots and paramedics. All are required to sign nondisclosure agreements. For that reason, the Star has provided them with anonymity. Thursday, at a town-hall meeting, ORNGE employees were once again reminded they must not talk to outsiders. Once, Mazza was a simple emergency room doctor at Sunnybrook Hospital. He fell in love with the concept of the air ambulance and did some work for one of the small companies that provided medical flights to the Ministry of Health in those days. He told people there was a better way to provide air ambulance service. By 2005, Mazza had convinced Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman to turn over the province’s air ambulance system to him as a non-profit. All provincial assets were transferred to Mazza’s non-profit (eventually called ORNGE because air ambulances are often orange) for a nominal fee of $1. In the words of provincial conservative critic Frank Klees, Mazza was an “empire builder.” Klees raised the issues of lack of oversight on ORNGE over the past eight months in the legislature. “(Premier) Dalton McGuinty and (Health Minister) Deb Matthews defended Mazza. They defended what was indefensible. Now it is time for Dalton McGuinty to take control of an out-of-control agency,” Klees said Thursday. The Star’s investigation has found an organization in chaos. Well-meaning employees — from doctors to pilots to paramedics — are unhappy. Much of the focus is now on their for-profit business. A corporate plan describes how the for-profit companies will “leverage” the assets and success of the non-profit ORNGE. For using the publicly funded ORNGE, Mazza said he planned to pay back to the province 3 per cent of gross profits. Middle managers, paramedics and pilots at ORNGE call the newly purchased office building near Pearson International Airport the “crystal palace.” It has luxurious offices. At times there has been a personal chef to provide meals, sources have told the Star. And, for the finicky Mazza, an ice-cold smoothie at 3 p.m. There is a private gym for executives. Executive travel of late has included trips to Italy and Brazil. The provincial auditor general is nearing the end of a year-long value-for-money audit of ORNGE. Among the issues he has been encouraged to look at is the blending of private and public funds at ORNGE. In one case, an ORNGE charity purchased a high-end wakeboard boat, an Air Nautique. Mazza, whose 14-year-old son died in a ski accident in 2006, created a charity to help reduce injuries in extreme sports. ORNGE briefly considered purchasing a large, water-filled quarry near Kitchener and the boat was to be used for water sports for youth. The boat was put in storage for two years. ORNGE spokesman James MacDonald said the boat was hardly used and no public money was expended on its purchase. The Star has tried for months to interview Mazza. He cancelled a recent plan for an interview Monday. In an internal memo to staff Thursday morning from ORNGE chair Rainer Beltzner, the publicly funded air ambulance agency announced that president and CEO Dr. Chris Mazza has taken an “indefinite medical leave.” “The board of directors for ORNGE and ORNGE Global met last night and I am writing to inform all staff that Dr. Mazza will be on indefinite medical leave,” the chair said in his memo to ORNGE employees. In Mazza’s absence, senior executive Tom Lepine will be interim president of the non-profit ORNGE, and an ORNGE vice-president, Maria Renzella, will be interim president and CEO of ORNGE Global, the for-profit entity. “I ask that everyone respect his privacy and that of his family during this time,” the chair said in the memo. Kevin Donovan can be reached at (416) 312-3503 or [email protected]
  14. ORNGE spinoff lands rich payout from same firm that sold Ontario its air ambulances Published On Mon Dec 19 2011 Kevin Donovan Staff Reporter First, Ontario’s ORNGE air ambulance service paid $120 million for 10 new helicopters, purchasing them from an Italian aircraft giant in 2008. Then the Italian company’s American office struck a $6.7 million deal to hire a Toronto firm made up of ORNGE executives to provide it with “sales and marketing services.” ORNGE will not discuss the deal. The Star has obtained a copy of the contract and related documents. “With respect to your inquiry regarding the marketing services agreement, we do not wish to engage in public discussion of commercial agreements of Ornge Global, which is a private company,” ORNGE spokesman James MacDonald said in an email. ORNGE, a non-profit agency that is paid $150 million annually in taxpayer money by the province to deliver air ambulance service, is under fire because it has created a web of for-profit consulting companies for which salaries are secret. Virtually all the top executives who oversee the non-profit air ambulance service now work for the primary consulting company, according to documents obtained by the Star. The provincial auditor general is investigating. One of the for-profit companies was formerly called ORNGE PEEL. (The name was recently changed to ORNGE Global.) Its president is Dr. Chris Mazza, who is also president and founder of the non-profit, publicly funded ORNGE. According to a recent “offering memorandum” to raise $15 million from investors to start a new business, Mazza owns a “majority” of the for-profit ORNGE company’s voting shares. The company plans to offer high-end emergency travel insurance coverage to wealthy executives and also provide air ambulance consulting service to corporations and to governments outside Ontario. Other ORNGE managers and board members own shares as well. The new company wants to “leverage” its connection to the publicly funded ORNGE and will pay 3 per cent of gross revenues back to the public company, starting in 2014. The genesis of the $6.7 million that Italian helicopter manufacturer AugustaWestland is paying the for-profit ORNGE for “sales and marketing” traces back three years. (Sources say this is seed money for Mazza’s for-profit company.) In 2008, ORNGE purchased 10 brand new helicopters called the AW139 from Augusta to place at Ontario’s air ambulance bases. ORNGE has stated that the $120 million purchase price was paid for by selling a bond issue on the public markets. ORNGE, which relies almost entirely on public funding, has not said how it will make interest payments to investors but the company insists that no taxpayers’ money was used for the purchase. In June 2010, according to contract documents, Augusta’s U.S. arm in Delaware entered into an agreement with Mazza and ORNGE PEEL (now ORNGE Global) to hire the fledgling Toronto firm to help market the international aircraft giant. The deal covered three phases spaced over 18 months, which are now complete. The initial payout for the three phases, according to the contract, was $4.7 million. Augusta recently signed an extension that will pay the ORNGE for-profit company an additional $2 million over two years, for a total payout of $6.7 million. What did Mazza and his fellow executives do for this money? In the first phase, they were to produce a marketing report for Augusta that would “identify international target market segments.” In the second phase, the Toronto firm was to develop a global marketing program for medical helicopters and to help Augusta “mine opportunities.” In the third and final phase, ORNGE PEEL was to continue to develop “leads” and attend “events and tradeshows.” ORNGE executives attended a trade show in Saudi Arabia with Ontario politicians and staff this past year. The extension phase, for which their firm is to receive $2 million, requires them to provide more marketing assistance to Augusta. The new company’s startup expenses include the leasing of a Hawker 800XP jet (to fly sick or injured executives home) and the establishing of a call centre. Both the for-profit and non-profit ORNGE are housed in the same building near Pearson International Airport, where the non-profit call centre is based. According to corporate information, ORNGE PEEL (now ORNGE Global) includes Mazza and ORNGE vice-presidents Maria Renzella and Rhoda Beecher. It also includes the chair of the non-profits board, Rainer Beltzner. The contract between ORNGE PEEL and Augusta was signed by Mazza and Renzella and Augusta executive vice-president Louis Bartolotta. The Star called and emailed Bartolotta, a company lawyer and the public relations official at head office in Italy. It has not yet received a response. According to the offering memorandum, the publicly funded ORNGE is an “essential Ontario-wide service” that will serve as a model internationally for the profit-driven firm. The for-profit company will “leverage ORNGE’s intellectual property and core competencies” in transport medicine, the offering memorandum states. The non-profit ORNGE, publicly funded by taxpayers, will receive 3 per cent of the for-profits gross revenues beginning in 2014, the documents show. Kevin Donovan can be reached at [email protected] or (416) 312-3503
  15. Auditor to peel ORNGE All ORNGE companies and an ORNGE charity arm run out of a building ORNGE bought near Pearson Airport. Employees, former employees and relatives of employees have nicknamed the building, which includes fitness and recreation facilities, the "Crystal Palace. "12Ontario's auditor general is investigating the secrecy surrounding executive salaries at ORNGE, the air ambulance service operating out of the Airport Corporate Centre in Mississauga that's funded by taxpayers. Health Minister Deb Matthews asked the auditor to step in this week. ORNGE is the company responsible for airlifting injured or sick people around the province, either between hospitals or from emergency scenes. It has recently purchased a fleet of airplanes and helicopters, painted bright orange. Ontario's Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, or "Sunshine Law," requires government-funded entities to reveal salaries of $100,000 or more as a way to let the public know how its dollars are spent. ORNGE, which discloses a few executive salaries that hover under $300,000, will not say how much president and CEO Chris Mazza earns. ORNGE also won't reveal how much four other top officials earn. It maintains it is obeying the law because it has disclosed the salaries of operational staff at ORNGE. Mazza and the others who do not disclose their salaries work for one of a number of for-profit consulting firms that were created by the non-profit air ambulance service. Mazza, a former emergency room doctor at Sunnybrook Hospital, founded ORNGE. In addition to his titles at ORNGE, he is listed as an executive with several other companies operating under the ORNGE umbrella. Another executive whose salary is not disclosed is Rick Potter, ORNGE's chief operating officer for aviation. ORNGE receives about $150 million a year in public money. All ORNGE companies and an ORNGE charity arm all run out of a building ORNGE bought south of Hwy. 401, near the off-ramp that heads north towards Pearson Airport. Employees, former employees and relatives of employees have nicknamed the building, which includes fitness and recreation facilities, the "Crystal Palace." ORNGE spokesman MacDonald said the building is not opulent. It was purchased in 2009 at a cost of $15.6 million. MacDonald said $478,000 was paid to renovate it. He said no public money was used for this. Rather, MacDonald said, ORNGE issued bonds on the public markets to pay for aircraft purchases and the building. On its website, Ornge officials have issued a statement about the company and disclosure of salaries. "Ornge is a federally incorporated, non-share, capital corporation and a registered charitable organization. Ornge is not a crown corporation or a government agency, nor is it a hospital," says the statement. "Given that Ornge receives funding from the government to provide transport medicine services, it is required by statute to report the salaries of all operations and front-line staff who earn more than $100,000 per year. All employees of the Ornge group of companies who fall outside this scope are not covered under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act. "For instance," says Ornge, "our CEO, Dr. Mazza, receives a modest amount of income from Ornge Ontario for occasional services as one of our many base-hospital physicians. He is employed by one of the for-profit companies in the Ornge group of companies, not by Ornge Ontario. This is because his responsibilities extend much more broadly than overseeing the Ontario air ambulance system." Until 2007, ORNGE disclosed all salaries. The next year Mazza's salary and others disappeared from the list. At the time, Mazza's published salary was just under $300,000. Meanwhile, Auditor Jim McCarter has been probing other issues at ORNGE since early 2011. He recently said he needs two more months to complete his probe. George Smitherman, health minister at the time, authorized one-time $2.9 million funding to ORNGE for an increase in "salaries and wages and other operating expenses," according to a letter written to ORNGE by Smitherman in December 2007.
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