Lafayette CountyMississippi News

Engineer charged with obstruction in the Yanky 72 plane crash investigation

Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office – Northern District of Mississippi

Jul 3, 2024 – A former Warner Robbins employee has been arrested for making false statements and obstructing justice during a federal criminal investigation into a 2017 military plane crash that claimed the lives of 16 service members.

On July 10, 2017, a United States Marine Corps KC-130 transport aircraft known as “Yanky 72” crashed near Itta Bena, Mississippi, resulting in the death of 15 Marines and one Navy Corpsman. On Tuesday morning, James Michael Fisher, formerly of Warner Robins, Georgia and currently residing in Portugal, was arrested on an indictment issued by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Mississippi charging him with obstruction of justice and false statements during a criminal investigation into the cause of that crash.

According to the indictment, FISHER, 67, former Lead Propulsion Engineer at Warner Robins Logistics Center, engaged in a pattern of conduct intended to avoid scrutiny for his past engineering decisions related to why the crash may have occurred. Specifically, the indictment alleges that FISHER knowingly concealed key engineering documents from criminal investigators and made materially false statements to criminal investigators about his past engineering decisions.

Fisher is charged with two false statements and two obstruction of justice charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge would determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner of the Northern District of Mississippi; and Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.

AFOSI, DCIS, and NCIS are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Leary and Philip Levy are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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