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Pilots ran up $142 bar tab before flight

Cloyd, right, has worked for America West since 1990. Hughes has worked for the airline since January 1999.
Cloyd, right, has worked for America West since 1990. Hughes has worked for the airline since January 1999.  

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Two America West pilots accused of trying to fly a passenger jet while intoxicated were part of a group that ran up a $142 bar tab the night before the incident, according to prosecution documents.

Documents released by prosecutors Tuesday state pilot Thomas Cloyd and co-pilot Christopher Hughes were still legally intoxicated more than two hours after Flight 556 was scheduled to leave Miami for Phoenix. Cloyd admitted to police that he had "too many" beers the night before, according to a police document also released.

Cloyd, 44, and Hughes, 41, have pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired and a felony charge of operating an aircraft while intoxicated. Both were fired by America West after their July 1 arrest and face up to six years in prison if convicted.

The bar tab -- which Hughes put on a credit card -- lists seven 34-ounce beers, seven 16-ounce beers, one draft beer of unspecified size, a martini and one hamburger while at Mister Moe's, a bar in Miami's Coconut Grove section. A law enforcement source said that was for a group that included four or five people.

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Complaints/arrest affidavits: Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes  (FindLaw document, PDF format)

The total, with tip, came to $142, prosecution documents said. The bill was paid at 4:22 a.m. on July 1 -- about six hours before the 10:38 a.m. America West flight Cloyd and Hughes were scheduled to fly.

Federal Aviation Administration rules require pilots to stop consuming alcohol at least eight hours before a flight. America West has a more stringent standard, prohibiting pilots from drinking within 12 hours of a flight.

Cloyd and Hughes were arrested while taxiing to the runway after a security agent, who argued with them when they tried to take cups of coffee through a checkpoint, alerted police.


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An attorney for Hughes, James Rubin, cautioned that the receipt from Mr. Moe's does not show how many people were in the party, who was drinking or how much each person consumed. However, a law enforcement source told CNN that a surveillance tape from the bar could answer those questions. That tape has not been released.

William Pearson, Cloyd's lawyer, said he was still studying the documents.

Prosecutors also released documents related to the pilots' Breathalyzer tests. Cloyd -- tested at 12:53 p.m., more than two hours after the flight was scheduled to depart -- registered a blood alcohol level of .091 percent. Hughes, tested about 15 minutes after Cloyd, registered a .084 percent alcohol level.

Under Florida law, anyone with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent is legally intoxicated. Both the FAA and America West set the intoxication standard for pilots at .04 percent.

When questioned by police, Cloyd admitted that he had been drinking beer the night before the flight, according to a written police summary of his interview. Asked how many beers he had consumed, Cloyd responded, "Too many," according to the summary.

No trial date has been set for the pilots, who were released on $7,000 bond.

Cloyd had worked for America West since 1990, Hughes since January 1999.

-- CNN Correspondent Mark Potter and Producer Allison Flexner contributed to this report.




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