ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - The owner of an aircraft charter company located at the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport, and a former Marine One pilot, is in jail in Georgia accused of having sex with a 14-year-old.
Steven Setzer was taken into custody on May 20 but his arrest is just now coming to light. Setzer was found in a wooded area, near a church, with a 14-year-old and “used condoms lying on the ground,” according to the Pooler Police Department. He was charged with several sex offenses including aggravated child molestation, sodomy, statutory rape and enticing a child for indecent purposes.
He is being held without bond at the Chatham County Jail, near Savannah, Georgia.
“Steve has just lived an exemplary life,” said Michael Anderson, an attorney for the Setzer family, who also represents Setzer’s company, Strategic Moves. “This is a decorated war veteran, a man who flew the president. He’s beloved by so many friends, family and they’re standing by him during this time.”
Strategic Moves, a private aircraft charter company, closed operations at the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport in Salisbury last month. Rowan County officials said vacated its hangar lease agreement due to “financial difficulties and the loss of clients,” according to The Salisbury Post.
Anderson, speaking exclusively to FOX 46, says the company’s closing wasn’t due to money issues but rather the arrest of its founder.
“Steve remains incarcerated and he has since May 20th,” said Anderson. “And it became untenable. He was a vital part of this company.”
A source with knowledge of the case tells FOX 46 the alleged victim listed his age as 18 on a dating app. Records show the teen told police several times that he was 18 when initially questioned by law enforcement.
“When I first asked the juvenile how old he was, he stated that he was 18,” Ofc. Selton Morrow wrote in the arrest report.
The teen later admitted that “he was only 14” when pressed by police.
“Georgia remains ‘strict liability,’” said Anderson. “It doesn’t matter how convincingly someone was lied to. If they interact with an underage person, they meet the elements of that crime.”
Strategic Moves opened at the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport in 2015 and promised to bring more than a dozen jobs and millions of dollars worth of aircraft to Rowan County.
“Thank you for your patronage and loyalty over the last 15 years as clients of Strategic Moves,” an announcement on the website reads. “Strategic Moves has discontinued operations as of 10/31/2019. Many of our clients have transitioned to Davinci Jets who are capable and excited to provide an excellent level of service.”
According to Setzer’s now-removed bio, he was a Marine pilot who was awarded a combat “air medal for heroism” in Desert Storm. He was also a Marine One pilot for President Bill Clinton and worked in the White House from 1993 to 1997. Part of his job was to certify the helicopter was safe after maintenance.
Setzer now faces a minimum of 25 years in prison.
“He is facing a potential maximum of two life sentences plus 30 years,” according to Kristin Fulford, the spokesperson for the Chatham County District Attorney.
“Mistake of fact as to the victim’s age is not a defense to these charges in Georgia,” she added.