Former Boeing Pilot Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud Charges in 737 Max Case
Mark Forkner, a former chief technical test pilot for Boeing, pleaded not guilty to fraud charges during his first court appearance in Fort Worth on Friday.
Forkner, 49, is reportedly accused of withholding information from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group related to safety issues with the 737 Max jetliner, which was involved in two fatal crashes that left hundreds dead.
Additionally, he is the only pilot to be charged with a crime in connection to the crashes that occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia, where a total of 346 people lost their lives.
The former test pilot appeared before a US magistrate judge in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, and was immediately released following his plea. He was indicted on six counts of fraud.
Forkner’s attorney, David Gerger, claimed his client was being used as a scapegoat, and that if the case goes to trial, “the truth will show that Mark did not cause this tragedy, he did not lie, and he should not be charged.”
“Forkner is just a fall guy. He and Boeing are responsible for the deaths of everyone who died in the Max crashes,” said Nadia Milleron, whose daughter was killed in the Ethiopian crash in March 2019, five months after the first crash. “The executives and board of directors of Boeing need to go to jail.”
Milleron is one of the few relatives that is suing Boeing in federal court in Chicago — where the corporate headquarters is based.
Boeing is said to have agreed to a $243 million fine as part of a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department in January.
The government agreed not to prosecute Boeing for conspiracy if it complied with the terms of the settlement for three years.
A magistrate set trial for Forkner on Nov. 15.