Rancher Shoots at Crop Dusting Plane

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013  |  Updated 5:41 AM CDT
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Rancher Shoots at Crop Dusting Plane

Timothy Kepler

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A northwest Texas rancher has admitted that he opened fire on a crop-dusting airplane flying overhead.

Stephen Paul Riley of Olney, 120 miles northwest of Dallas, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Wichita Falls to a count of aircraft destruction. He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison and fined $250,000 when he's sentenced May 21.

According to court records, a crop-dusting pilot flew over property adjacent to Riley's Flying Lead Ranch around midday on Feb. 22, 2008. Riley fired multiple times on the aircraft, striking and nearly severing the rudder cable and striking a wing strut.

Court records showed Riley had previously threatened the owner of the company that leased the plane, saying that he would shoot down any plane flying over the ranch.

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