Two men to face trial for alleged unlawful use of FCSO helicopter

Two men to face trial for alleged unlawful use of FCSO helicopter

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Two men from Lake City Airport got caught between the transfer of a helicopter from the Lake City Police Department to the Florence County Sheriff's Office. They're being charged with unlawfully entering that helicopter. Although they appeared in court Friday to try to get their indictment dismissed, the trial will go on.

Patrick McLaughlin, the defense attorney for Dusan Fridl and Hemming Hemmingsen, filed for a motion to quash their indictment because he said the witness who testified to the grand jury wasn't actually listed on the indictment.

He said his clients have a right to know the witnesses who testified against them to prepare a proper defense.

After four hours of legalese and testimony from several witnesses on the indictment process, Judge Thomas Russo decided to deny the motion.

The case will now proceed to trial, which is scheduled for January 25.

In a document for a motion to dismiss, the defense argues Fridl and Hemmingsen legally used the helicopter for a maintenance flight before responsibility for it was transferred to FCSO.

Fridl is the manager of Lake City Airport and Hemmingsen is a pilot and flight instructor.

The two decided several years ago to try to set up a Pee Dee Air Support Unit using a federal program that allows local law enforcement agencies to use surplus military equipment.

The Lake City Police Department became the agency that would get the helicopter, but Fridl and Hemmingsen were assigned managerial and piloting responsibilities for it once it became available in December 2014.

The Florence County Sheriff's Office decided to start its own air unit and got permission from the Lake City Police Department to transfer the helicopter.

Fridl and Hemmingsen were out of town when they were told FCSO wanted to pick up the helicopter, so they said FCSO could pick it up on April 7. The document for the motion to dismiss said that's when they both thought the transfer of ownership would happen.

The day before, Fridl and Hemmingsen took the helicopter for an hour-long maintenance flight.

On April 7, FCSO picked up the helicopter and signed for the responsibility of it, the motion states.

Hemmingsen and Fridl were arrested April 16 and April 20 because FCSO said it had ownership of the helicopter at that time, the motion said.

Their charge, which is unlawful entry, damage or removal of equipment from an aircraft, holds up to a 10 year sentence.

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