LODI, Calif. — A former skydiving instructor at an Acampo skydiving facility was indicted on June 10 for fraud and identity theft while running unauthorized certification courses in 2016.
According to unsealed court documents, 46-year-old Robert Allen Pooley was not allowed to teach tandem instructor courses on his own after his tandem examiner ratings from the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA) and the Uninsured United Parachute Technologies LLC (UPT) were suspended in 2015.
Pooley had gotten his tandem examiner ratings from the USPA and UPT in 2010 and taught courses for others trying to get their USPA Tandem Instructor ratings at the Lodi Parachute Center in Acampo.
Even after he was suspended from teaching, Pooley still ran the courses without authorization, according to court documents. He also failed to tell his students of his suspension.
Pooley told his students that they could get their USPA and UPT tandem ratings through his courses and still helped them fill out the paperwork, convincing them his courses were legitimate, according to the documents.
Instead of signing off on the paperwork himself, Pooley used a digital image of another properly rated tandem examiner, who was not in the country at the time, instead of using his own signature for his courses.
He had multiple students pay between $1,000 to $1,600 for his classes in 2016 from around the world, according to the court documents.
One of his students died in a tandem diving accident with a customer on August 6, 2016. The case against Pooley for fraud and identity theft is a result of the investigation into the deaths.
During the investigation into the deadly skydiving accidents, the USPA found that some of the people who took Pooley's courses were not properly taught and that the classes might have been abbreviated or incomplete.
At the time, 140 tandem instructors from Pooley's classes had to retake classes or go through full and complete tandem instructor rating courses with a certified USPA tandem examiner.
Pooley did not give the money back to his victims who wanted it at the time, according to the court documents.
Pooley has been charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after a grand jury returned their indictment on June 10, 2021. Pooley now faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud and a mandatory two-year sentence on each count of aggravated identity theft if he is convicted.
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