Engineer charged with obstructing justice in 2017 military plane crash in Itta Bena

Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

OXFORD — A Georgia man 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 U.S. 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, 67, former Lead Propulsion Engineer at Warner Robins Logistics Center in 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.

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According to the indictment, Fisher 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 counts of making a false statement and two counts of obstructing justice. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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

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

Those agencies are also investigating the case, while Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Leary and Philip Levy for the Northern District of Mississippi are prosecuting it.