6 May 2019

Man in court over sale of vintage airplanes

4:12 pm on 6 May 2019

A vintage aircraft expert who worked for Sir Peter Jackson faces fraud charges over the sale of three First World War-era reproduction planes.

A photo of Gene DeMarco with a partly reconstructed Albatros DVa airplane

A photo of Eugene DeMarco with a partly reconstructed Albatros DVa airplane. Photo: RNZ / Ruth Beran

The Serious Fraud Office said Eugene John DeMarco, as production manager for The Vintage Aviator Limited, arranged to sell the three planes to the New Zealand Warbirds Association.

Moviemaker Sir Peter owns The Vintage Aviator, which manufactures reproductions of First World War-era planes.

Mr DeMarco, a 57-year-old US citizen who lives in Wellington, pleaded not guilty to fraud charges in the Wellington District Court a year ago and was remanded on bail.

He will stand trial in the High Court in Wellington on 26 August.

The case revolves around funds paid to buy the planes.

"The SFO has also charged Mr DeMarco with theft by person in a special relationship, and obtaining by deception, in relation to the unauthorised use of another vintage aircraft as security to obtain a loan," the SFO said in a statement.

Mr DeMarco's online profile says he is an experienced vintage aeroplane display pilot.

The Vintage Aviator's website pictures a dozen military aircraft it has built or restored, mostly biplanes, and four aircraft that are for sale.