Former charter air director faces charges

BEDFORD – A former Bedford charter airline executive faces more than 100 felony charges for logging into airline systems and altering flight information after his firing, state police said Tuesday.

Police said Benjamin Frank Gottshall, 38, of Bedford repeatedly accessed internal documents at Bun Air Corp., a Bedford County-based company that offers charter flights and airplane maintenance at the Bedford County Airport. Gottshall, a former director of operations at the company, maintains that he’s been unfairly targeted for working to start a competing charter line.

“He was logging into the system from his residence using his former password,” state police Trooper Matthew P. Auker said Tuesday. “[He was] doing stuff to make the company look bad.”

Auker said Gottshall accessed the system repeatedly between July 27 and Aug. 18, changing flight data and schedules. At one point, he allegedly canceled a flight entirely, but employees caught the error and corrected it in time, Auker said.

None of the changes posed an immediate danger to the public, Auker said.

Reached by phone hours after his arraignment Tuesday, Gottshall said he plans to fight the charges, which are “not true.”

“The owners are in fear of a new business that has been set up, to be nameless,” Gottshall said. He confirmed that the new business would operate charter flights, putting it in competition with Bun Air.

Gottshall’s attorney, Alfred Thomas Farrell of Altoona, said it’s too early to discuss the case in detail.

“I’m not even sure the charges are legitimate,” Farrell said.

Gottshall appears on a Civil Air Patrol website as the commander of Squadron 202, the Bedford branch of the Air Force volunteer auxiliary. On Tuesday, he said he has not led the group for some time.

Gottshall faces 54 charges each of unlawful use of a computer and computer trespass. Both are third-degree felonies.

He was released Tuesday on $75,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23 before Magisterial District Judge H. Cyril Bingham Jr.

Bun Air executives were not available for comment Tuesday.