Originally appeared on philly.com
Aircraft junkies, get out your checkbooks.
A powder blue 1959 Piper Comanche used to fly illegal drugs from Las Vegas to Montgomery County last year is up for online auction through July 12.
You can view the single-engine fixed-wing plane on www.Municibid.com, where bidding starts at $4,000. The website specializes in reselling government vehicles and other items.
The puddle jumper called “My Lady” was seized by police April 22, 2011, when pilot/owner James Handzus of Rifle, Colo., was nabbed for selling a pound of crystal meth to an undercover agent.
Handzus flew the plane from his home to Las Vegas, where he bought the meth, then flew the drugs to Wings Field in Blue Bell. Unfortunately for Handzus, an undercover agent got wind of the cargo.
Handzus was tried in Montgomery County Court this year and convicted of drug law violations. He is serving nine to 22 years in state prison, where he’ll be using ground transportation, if at all.
As part of the drug case, Assistant District Attorney James Staerk, head of the Montgomery County District Attorney Office’s forfeiture unit, argued that the plane must be forfeited to the Commonwealth.
“It is time for Mr. Handzus to kiss ‘his lady’ goodbye,” Staerk said at the time.
District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman considered creating an aviation unit within her office for all of five minutes, then decided it wasn’t practical.
“I doubt there is much realistic use for a plane within our operations,” she said. “We will plan to sell the plane, and make use of the proceeds for narcotics enforcement and investigations throughout the county.
“I can think of no better way to use proceeds of illegal drug activity than to take these ill-gotten gains away from drug traffickers, and use their prized possessions to take other drug dealers out of commission.”
By Wednesday afternoon, three bidders had jumped in, and one had offered $10,100. The Bank of Colorado holds a $22,000 lien on the plane. The DA is hoping a bid will be enough to pay off the lien and turn a profit.
The plane and its logbook are available for inspection from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Wings Field, 1501 Narcissa Rd. Staerk said the aircraft works.
“I believe it is in good repair, although it would need an FAA inspection to be airworthy,” he said.
Inquiries can be made to Staerk, Assistant District Attorney Steve Bunn, or Administrative Assistant Celeste Maia at 610-278-3108.
Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her “MontCo Memo” blog on Philly.com.
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