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West Ventura County Focus

OXNARD : 2 Plead Not Guilty in Aerial Joy Ride

September 01, 1993|JULIE FIELDS

Two Oxnard men pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony charge of stealing an airplane from the Oxnard Airport and using it for a wild, one-hour flight before landing safely in the Santa Clara River bed.

Steven Michael Valenti, 31, and Barton Dean Harvey, 31, entered their pleas during an arraignment in Ventura County Municipal Court. A preliminary hearing for both men was set for Sept. 13, and their bail was reduced from $25,000 to $5,000 each. Both men were being held in Ventura County Jail on Tuesday.

The men have been charged with taking and operating a twin-engine Cessna 340 without permission. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

The incident began about 4 p.m. Friday when two men hopped in the Cessna and took off from the Oxnard Airport without permission from the control tower.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 2, 1993 Ventura West Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Column 6 Metro Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
Misleading caption--A photograph caption on B3 on Wednesday may have been misleading. Deputy Public Defender Robert A. Dahlstedt is shown next to defendant Barton Harvey.

The plane then buzzed the Camarillo Airport, narrowly missing a helicopter and a building, and flew wild maneuvers over Fillmore and Santa Paula. The plane was tailed by a sheriff's helicopter, and Valenti and Harvey were arrested immediately after it landed in the riverbed, authorities said.

At the time of their arrest, sheriff's deputies said both men appeared to be intoxicated. A nearly empty bottle of vodka was found in the cockpit.

Deputy Dist. Atty. James D. Ellison would not comment on why no alcohol-related charges were filed against the men Tuesday. But he did not rule out additional charges being filed.

A blood sample was taken from both men after their arrest to determine if they were intoxicated, but Ellison said he had not seen the results of those tests.

In 1983, Valenti was convicted of a similar offense in which he stole an airplane from the Oxnard Airport and buzzed Ventura's Pierpont neighborhood.

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