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Pilot Who Flew Through Eiffel Tower Gets 15-Year Prison Term in Drug Case

April 22, 1988 GMT

STUART, Fla. (AP) _ Robert Moriarty, who once flew a single-engine plane through the opening at the base of the Eiffel Tower, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on a drug-conspiracy charge.

Chief Circuit Judge Dwight Geiger also ordered a $250,000 fine and 15 years probation.

″I’m very upset ... We’re going to take this case to appeal,″ Moriarty said after the sentencing Thursday.

He criticized Geiger’s decision not to dismiss the verdict of the jury that found him guilty in February of conspiring to traffic in cocaine but innocent of a cocaine-trafficking charge.


″I’m going up to the ‘Big House’ with the biggest sentence anybody has gotten in this case,″ said the 41-year-old pilot from Coconut Grove, who has been held in the Martin County Jail since his arrest in October 1986.

″I just got sentenced to 15 years in prison for something I didn’t do.″

In May, Moriarty was found guilty of cocaine conspiracy and trafficking charges in connection with the discovery of nearly 1,000 pounds of cocaine on a plane that landed on a grass airstrip in Port Mayaca on the rim of Lake Okeechobee.

Evidence on the plane and the testimony of the co-pilot led authorities to Moriarty.

Defense attorney Robert Watson told of Moriarty’s numerous honors during his military career, including service as an F4 Phantom pilot in Vietnam, in trying to persuade Geiger not to impose a longer sentence than the minimum mandatory 15-year term.

Moriarty also set a world record for a trans-Atlantic flight in a single- engine plane, Watson wrote in a letter to the judge.

Moriarty made his stunt flight through the Eiffel Tower at the end of that record-setting flight in 1984.