A former Salt Lake air traffic controller pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to engage in air smuggling and to possession of 2 kilograms of cocaine with the intention of distributing it.
Two other felony charges will be dismissed against David A. Peterson, according to the plea-bargain agreement in the case. A co-defendant, Robert E. Staich, will appear before U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene on Tuesday.Peterson and Staich were named in a three-count indictment in January. Peterson pleaded guilty to the possession count.
On Monday, a new felony charge was filed against them alleging conspiracy, and Peterson pleaded guilty to it too. The conspiracy was in place by March 1, 1988, and continued until the arrest of Peterson and Staich on Jan. 24, the charge says.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Dance had said that Peterson violated the public trust by his involvement with smuggling cocaine by airplane across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Peterson's crimes were related to his official duties as an air traffic controller, he said. Air traffic controllers are federal employees.