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Charges stand against ex-Air Guard pilot

A federal judge has refused to dismiss criminal charges that were filed against a former Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station pilot.

In a four-page ruling, U.S. District Judge John T. Elfvin denied a request from Robert P. Feneziani, 46, to dismiss charges that were filed against him in February 2005.

The former Elma man, now living in San Antonio, is accused of making a series of false statements on a government application for top-secret security clearance.

Feneziani's attorney, Mark J. Mahoney, maintains that the Western New York Anti-Terrorism Task Force "maliciously" made false allegations that caused Feneziani to retire from the Air National Guard. Mahoney said the pilot never lied on the application.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy P. Lynch declined to comment Tuesday, except to say that Elfvin's ruling speaks for itself and the case will move forward.

"Feneziani has failed to point to any evidence demonstrating a 'reasonable likelihood' of vindictiveness" on the part of federal agents or of any misconduct by prosecutors, Elfvin wrote.

The judge agreed with an earlier recommendation made by Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr.

"I'm very disappointed that [Elfvin] didn't examine the case more closely," Mahoney said in response late Tuesday. "This case is outrageous to me."

The charges against the pilot were dropped by the government four months after his arrest and then refiled eight months after that. When Feneziani was initially arrested, federal agents claimed he once threatened to crash a jetliner into the Wall Street financial district in New York City, but the government has since dropped that claim.

Feneziani, who still works as a United Airlines pilot, retired from the Air National Guard soon after his arrest and received an honorable discharge and a military pension. He denies any wrongdoing.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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