By Elizabeth Daley
PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A pilot who initially claimed his small plane's cargo was hot water tanks has admitted it was actually 252 pounds of marijuana, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pennsylvania said on Monday.
Ken Barton Burrows, 54, of Provo, Utah, pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh on Friday to one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
He faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry on Feb. 20.
Burrows was apprehended after landing his Cessna plane on Dec. 13, 2013, at the New Castle Pennsylvania Municipal Airport, located about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Pittsburgh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Burrows, who was flying from Woodland Airport in Northern California, initially claimed to be carrying hot water tanks as cargo, but inside the sealed plastic containers, U.S. customs agents found a big stash of pot, she said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to put a dollar value on the drugs.
According to information presented in court, Burrows was recruited to fly the marijuana-laden plane.
His lawyer, Stephen Misko, could not be immediately reached for comment.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh)