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Small-Plane Crash Revealed Pilot's Secrets

Antonio Pastini used different names, lied about his police background
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2019 12:33 PM CDT
This Dec. 24, 2018, selfie by Julia Ackley shows herself and her father, Antonio Pastini, at Lake Tahoe near Carson City, Nev.   (Julia Ackley via AP, File)

(Newser) – A stolen police badge was just part of the mystery and lies surrounding the 75-year-old pilot killed when his plane crashed into a Southern California neighborhood last month. Antonio Pastini was never a police officer, but often rubbed elbows with cops while operating Nevada restaurants in the early 1990s, reports the Los Angeles Times, which has done a deep dive into Pastini's "mysterious double life." He'd offer discounts to cops and host police fundraisers, while a wall of his Reno deli was covered in police patches. The badge found in Pastini's plane—belonging to Retired Chicago Patrolman #15599—didn't match any of three names he used during his lifetime. Born Jordan Isaacson in Illinois, he legally changed his name to Jordan Aaron in Arizona in 1981, claiming he already went by that name in California. He argued the same in 2008, when he again changed his name to Antonio Pastini.

In a 2001 court filing, an ex-wife said Jordan Aaron and Antonio Pastini, with unique Social Security numbers, were both collecting wages as operators of a sushi restaurant. She also claimed Pastini kept driver's licenses and bank accounts under various names, apparently in an effort to hide money. Pastini's nephew tells the Times his uncle was a real cop who changed his name in an effort to leave his police role behind. Yet "it was hard to have a conversation with Tony when he didn't bring up that he was an ex-Chicago cop," a man who knew him tells KOLO. And he'd lied before. Pastini's pilot license was suspended for 120 days in 1977 when he claimed he was instrument-rated during a flight challenged by clouds and fog. He wasn't, and a judge ruled his decision to keep flying put himself and others at risk. Per the Times, he received a weather warning on the day he died. Read the full story. (Read more plane crash stories.)

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