August 3, 2012
Hawaii pilot pleads guilty to steroids
LIHU'E - A pilot who was contracted to fly a county helicopter pleaded guilty to illegal steroid possession Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court. Kurt Patrick Ventura, 36, of Kilauea, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree possession of the drug Oxandrolone. He also pleaded to attempted Oxandrolone possession and illegal use of drug paraphernalia. The two second-degree felony charges carry a maximum 10-year sentence each and a $20,000 fine. The paraphernalia charge carries a possible 5-year term with a $5,000 fine. Judge Kathleen Watanabe informed Ventura that a possible extended term could be imposed for three felonies. It could double the jail time to total of 50 years. Three other charges of attempted testosterone possession and paraphernalia are to be dismissed as part of the plea deal. The March 29 indictment said Ventura was in possession of more than 100 capsules, tablets or dosage units of Oxandrolone. The reduced plea stated the possession and attempted possession amounts were 25 units each. Defense attorney Michael Green said in court the possession was for personal use and that he would address the circumstances at the Oct. 31 sentencing hearing. He informed the court that he would prepare a supplemental report to include with the state's pre-sentencing investigation. Watanabe said the supplemental report is not unusual and would accept it for consideration. County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Samuel Jajich represented the state. He and Green held a conference with the judge in chambers prior to the change of plea hearing. Ventura was arrested on March 12 on drug charges that amount to illegal possession of prescription medications. A county spokesperson said the arrest did not involve operation of the county helicopter. Ventura was a pilot for Airborne Aviation, which is contracted to fly and maintain the MD530F county helicopter for use in air rescue and training. In the interest of public safety and that of fire and police personnel who fly in the line of duty, the Kaua'i Fire Department issued notice to the Airborne Aviation to prohibit the pilot from operating the county helicopter pending the outcome of the case. According to the National Center for Biology Information, Oxandrolone is an anabolic steroid that increases protein production in the body to build muscle and increase body weight. It is often prescribed for patients who lose weight from surgery, injury or lasting infections. The status of Oxandrolone as an addictive narcotic is being debated but it is labeled as an orphan drug, used to treat rare ailments from anemia to osteoporosis, and to prevent side effects of medications that cause inflammation or swelling.