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Pilot sentenced in drug-masking scheme

Associated Press / September 4, 2010

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PITTSBURGH — A former US Airways Express pilot will spend nine months in prison for selling a powdered drink mix over the Internet that he claimed was “100 percent’’ effective in helping drug-using truck drivers, pilots, and train engineers pass federally mandated drug tests.

US District Judge David Cercone yesterday rejected a request for probation by Stephen Sharp, 41, of Port Orange, Fla., and scolded Sharp for not considering “the magnitude of the potential harm’’ of his actions.

The judge interrupted Sharp as he expressed regrets for the difficulties his family has encountered — he’s married with an 11-year-old daughter and lost his pilot’s job because of his crimes — in the nearly 2 1/2 years since federal agents raided his Sharp Labs, which did business as www.yourintheclear.com.

“If you think those years were hard, how do you think you would have felt if a pilot was able to disguise his intoxication with your product and crashed a plane killing 250 people?’’ Cercone asked.

Sharp noted that he sold about 1,500 other chemical products through his business and “lost track’’ of the “Your in the Clear’’ solution he sold from November 2006 through May 2008.

At that time, Sharp was also a pilot for PSA Airlines, which flies under the US Airways Express banner, and said he considered the possible consequences.

“But it didn’t cause you to take it off the Internet until you were caught, didn’t it?’’ Cercone said.

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