Remember back in June when I first told you about the ATF screwing over a vintage airplane collector? See http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2009/06/atf-screws-over-vintage-airplane.html.
Well, they're still at it. The dirty, low-down corrupt bastards.
Shelby County collector frustrated as 1952 war plane remains in custody of federal officials
By Anita Debro -- The Birmingham News
December 26, 2009, 9:02AM
More than six months after government officials seized his rare vintage military aircraft, Claude Hendrickson said he is still in the dark about why the airplane was confiscated and when and if it will be returned to him.
Until the 1952 airplane -- believed to be one of only a handful of Douglas AD-4N Skyraiders in the U.S. -- is released from federal custody, Hendrickson said the aircraft will slowly deteriorate because he can't maintain it.
In May, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized the Skyraider that Hendrickson purchased from a private collector in France.
Hendrickson, a business owner who lives in Shelby County, had imported the $100,000 aircraft from France and stored it in a hangar he leases at Bessemer Municipal Airport.
Six weeks later, Hendrickson said ICE agents seized the plane and placed it into another hangar at the Bessemer airport.
Since then, Hendrickson has not been allowed to fly the plane or perform any work on it.
ICE spokesman Temple Black this week declined comment on the case and forwarded questions to the U.S. Attorney's office in Birmingham.
Peggy Sanford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office, said this week that a forfeiture case involving the airplane is pending.
Sanford said that in cases where ICE seizes property and the owner challenges that seizure, it becomes a judicial matter and forwarded to the U.S. Attorney's office. The courts can then decide to proceed with the forfeiture of the property or decline to pursue forfeiture.
Hendrickson said he has not been given any specifics on his case.
"The thing that really concerns me," Hendrickson said Monday "is that we still know nothing about what is going on and ICE will not meet with us about the airplane."
Hendrickson has not been charged with any crime.
Hendrickson said ICE agents told him after they seized the plane in May that he had failed to fill out a form required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives when he imported the plane into the states from France.
Hendrickson said he was unaware he had to register the plane with ATF since he removed the aircraft's artillery while it was still in France.
The airplane is registered with the FAA. That agency issued a certificate of registration on the airplane in September 2008, according to the agency's Web site.
The registered owner of the aircraft, according to the FAA, is Dixie Equipment LLC, the business Hendrickson owns.
Hendrickson has collected vintage airplanes for the last several years and flies them in air shows. His father served as a naval pilot, which fostered his love of the aircraft.
"I was really just trying to preserve a piece of American history," Hendrickson said.
Shortly after ICE seized the Skyraider, Hendrickson said following one of his business trips to Central America he was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials and questioned extensively about his work, and his belongings were searched.
In September, Hendrickson said he was detained by Customs and Border Patrol officials following a trip to Canada with no explanation. In a letter written to Customs and Border Patrol Chief Counsel Alfonso Robles, Hendrickson's attorneys said border patrol officials were "overly aggressive and violent" towards Hendrickson.
"I'm a target," Hendrickson said. "It's like I have been labeled a terrorist."
Virginia Dabbs, spokeswoman for Customs and Border Patrol, said she could not comment on Hendrickson's claims.
"We don't harass people," Dabbs said.