Atwater flight school owner arrested

Daniel Yoon
Daniel Yoon Merced County Sheriff’s Office

Daniel Yoon, one of two owners of the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics in Atwater, was arrested Wednesday morning.

Yoon, 66, was booked just before 9 a.m. into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of falsifying corporate records. He posted a $100,000 bail bond and was released around 1:15 p.m., according to booking records.

Yoon faces criminal charges filed this month by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, accusing him of falsely using the name of the flight school’s second owner, John Yoon, while applying for a loan. He is charged with two counts of falsification of corporate records and two counts of forgery, all felonies, according to court records.

Daniel Yoon and John Yoon are former business partners and not related by blood, multiple officials have confirmed.

No court dates had been scheduled in the criminal case as of Wednesday afternoon.

On Monday, federal investigators also descended on the Atwater flight school as part of a criminal investigation led by the Treasury Department. Internal Revenue Service officials have declined to comment on the nature of their investigation. Daniel Yoon has been accused of tax evasion in a lawsuit filed by his ex-business partner in Merced County Superior Court.

John Yoon is suing Daniel Yoon in a fight for control over the flight school, which was established in Oakland and moved to Castle in 2004.

Merced County prosecutors have said their criminal case against Yoon is not connected to the federal investigation.

The civil lawsuit between John Yoon and Daniel Yoon is ongoing, with a Merced County hearing scheduled for March. Officials maintain the school will not suffer any hiccups while the court battle continues.

Vincent Kim, John Yoon’s attorney, has said the two men were equal partners in the academy but Daniel Yoon attempted to wrest full control away after John Yoon suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle crash in 2013 that left him hospitalized for several months, according to court documents.

Cyril Lawrence, Daniel Yoon’s attorney, said the civil lawsuit is over a disagreement that didn’t need to go to court, but he’s hopeful the parties will work it out. He has declined to comment on the criminal charges.

The academy continued full operations Wednesday, according to spokesman Bob Deklinski.

The Sierra Academy of Aeronautics is a school that specializes in training commercial pilots for several Asian air carriers. According to a company spokesman, the school is in full operation.

The school employs around 100 people to support its approximately 250 students.