By Debbie Gregory.
A Raleigh, NC car mechanic who took a helicopter to SAS Institute headquarters, wearing a battle dress uniform, told security officers that he was picking up a female employee on orders of the U.S. president.
Christian Desgroux pretended to be a three-star U.S. Army general in order to impress a woman who worked at SAS, a privately held technology company that is among the largest based in the state, with 14,000 employees worldwide.
The 57-year-old Desgroux is charged with pretending to be a military officer, which carries a maximum of three years in prison.
When the chartered helicopter landed, Desgroux emerged, wearing a full military battle dress uniform.
The woman, who is married and a 20-year acquaintance of Desgroux’s, had no idea that he was flying a helicopter to pick her up or that he wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with her.
Earlier in 2017, Desgroux chartered a helicopter to Jacksonville, again wearing an Army uniform, and had the pilot land at a KOA Kampground so he could meet briefly with a woman there.
“The defendant has engaged in substantial dishonesty,” said Federal Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers, noting that a number of unrelated state criminal charges are also pending against Desgroux.
Other charges outside the helicopter incident include stalking, assault on a female and misuse of a 911 system – crimes involving his stepdaughter, wife and girlfriend.
Desgroux, a native of Chile, has lived in the Raleigh area for more than three decades and recently became a U.S. citizen. He works out of his home garage as an auto mechanic.