Navy veteran convicted for hiding mental health condition on civilian pilot certification forms
By STEVE BEYNON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 4, 2020
WASHINGTON — A Navy veteran was found guilty for concealing his depression disorder from the Federal Aviation Administration on pilot medical certification forms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Nicholas Beyer, 34, of Discovery Bay, Calif., was convicted on two counts of making false statements to the FAA and two counts of falsifying, concealing, or covering up material facts.
In civilian pilot medical certification applications submitted to the FAA in 2016 and 2018, Beyer lied about never being diagnosed with any mental health disorders, despite a major depressive disorder diagnoses from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2016, for which he received disability pay. Beyer was also receiving disability compensation for knee and back injuries, which he did disclose.
Beyer’s lawyer argued he concealed his depression because he felt the VA over-diagnosed him, court records show. However, the federal prosecutors said the medical forms, which are used to evaluate whether a pilot has credentials to fly, ask very clearly about mental health conditions -- not a pilot’s opinion on the diagnosis or how severe they personally believe the condition is.
“The FAA’s airman medical certificate process is the mechanism by which the FAA evaluates whether pilots are mentally and physically fit to fly,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.
Military records show Beyer, a petty officer second class, enlisted in the Navy from 2005 to 2014 and served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. He was awarded two Good Conduct Medals and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Beyer faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution for each violation. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for April, 22.