Eugene John DeMarco, pictured in 2012 with a RE-8 reproduction WWI biplane at Hood Aerodrome. PHOTO/FILE

Trial date set for August

A manager at the vintage airplane making company owned by Masterton-based Sir Peter Jackson will face fraud charges at a trial in August.

Eugene John DeMarco, 57, an American citizen, appeared before the Wellington District Court in May 2018, where he pleaded not guilty to an unspecified number of fraud charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office and was remanded on bail.

DeMarco faces charges of theft by a person in a special relationship or obtaining by deception, as alternative charges, in relation to the sale of three reproduction vintage aircraft to the New Zealand Warbirds
Association Inc.

He arranged the sales in his capacity as production manager for The Vintage Aviator Ltd.

The association declined to comment.

The SFO has also charged DeMarco with theft by a person in a special relationship and obtaining by deception in relation to the unauthorised use of another vintage aircraft as security to obtain a loan.

DeMarco is scheduled to stand trial in the Wellington High Court on August 26.

Last year TVAL said it had temporarily suspended sales of all aircraft, engines and accessories due to an investigation relating to purchases made since mid-2016.

TVAL constructs original World War I aircraft, and the company owns and operates the largest collection of original and reproduction WWI aircraft in the world.

The Scarf & Goggles Social Club blog has written that by “joining forces with Gene DeMarco, a leading display pilot and restorer of WWI types from his time at Old Rhinebeck aerodrome in New York State, TVAL has acted as an airborne ‘Jurassic Park’ that has brought types not seen in the skies for almost a century”.

During a pilot training and currency flying weekend, TVAL flew a sortie featuring nine British aircraft from the WWI as a tribute to the servicemen of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, the Historical Aviation Film Unit said in a Facebook post.

“It is unlikely that there has been a formation of British WWI aircraft of this size, using original engines, since the early 1920s, making this tribute flypast by TVAL during the RAF’s 100th Anniversary year a unique event in the past 90 years or so,” the post said.