DENISON, Texas (AP) — Blocked by sanding trucks and a snowplow, a Russian cargo plane embroiled in a financial dispute sat grounded Friday by a restraining order in Michigan a week after it was flown out of northern Texas in violation of a similar mandate.The Texas man behind the complaints seeks more than $60,000 for servicing the plane during the2½ years it spent at North Texas Regional Airport. His extensive efforts to collect took an unexpected turn when five Ukrainian crew members intercepted in Michigan were sent back to their home country on immigration violations."This is definitely something we're new at," said Marquette County sheriff's Capt. David Lemire, whose department decided on heavy machinery as the best way to enforce a Michigan judge's order. "It's pretty odd."The plane's owner has a different word for the dispute."It's an absolute joke," said Gary Fears of Air Support Systems LLC. "There's no news here."The disagreement escalated in January, when Victor Miller was granted a lien against the plane by the Federal Aviation Administration.Miller, who owns Air-1 Flight Support Inc., obtained a temporary restraining order in mid-June when he said in an affidavit he was told a crew was in the Sherman-Denison area near the Oklahoma border preparing to fly the plane to Pakistan.The plane went up anyway July 17, one day after FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the agency granted a permit that's good through July 31. Airport director Mike Shanan said the Ilyushin Il-78 had clearance for takeoff even though the tower was closed when the plane rumbled down the runway around sunrise.Shanan said airport officials weren't aware of the restraining order when the plane took off, and Fears said he had never been served a complaint. Lunsford said a flight plan was filed through the FAA's Miami service station."As far as I know, there was nothing secretive about them leaving," Shanan said. "Everybody that I know around here knew about it."Airport officials in Oshkosh, Wis., said they didn't know about it, even though Wittman Regional Airport was listed as the destination at online flight tracker flightaware.com.Instead, the plane ended up at Sawyer International Airport in northern Michigan, an old U.S. air base. Scott Erbisch, Sawyer's director of operations, said the crew contacted the airport Thursday about landing there the next day.The FAA's Lunsford said the crew had requested to fly to Canada but was told to land because the required paperwork wasn't filed.Lemire said his office was notified by Miller's Dallas-based attorney of the restraining order in Texas. He said they couldn't enforce the order but eventually decided to contact federal authorities.The five Ukrainians were detained because the temporary visas they had to fly the plane had expired while they were waiting for FAA clearance in Texas, said Martha Jennings, the Michigan immigration attorney who helped secure their release.The men spent two days in jail before Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials agreed to let them stay in a hotel until they left the country, Jennings said. The attorney said they went home Wednesday night.ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls in Detroit said the men were allowed to leave the country voluntarily."I think ICE officials ... realized they weren't dealing with the kind of people they typically deal with," Jennings said. "These guys got stuck. They were kind of in the middle of an administrative (mix up) that was not of their making or doing."With the plane on the ground in Michigan, Miller hired attorney Dan Mead, who secured a restraining order in that state within hours. Mead asked the Marquette County Sheriff's Office what could be done to keep the plane from leaving. He said the sheriff's office came up with the idea to block the plane.The plane will stay until at least Aug. 10 after a Michigan judge rescheduled a hearing on a preliminary injunction.Fears said he bought the 1988 model from the Ukraine and brought it to Texas, where heabandoned plans to turn it into a water bomber to fight wildfires. He said it was originally equipped as a midair refueler for the Ukrainian military. The plane has an appraised value of $12 million, Fears said.The company leasing the plane, North American Tactical Aviation Inc., was taking the plane to Pakistan to help fight terrorism along the border with Afghanistan, Fears said. The company's owner didn't return a call seeking comment.Fears said Miller's $62,410 bill is inflated and that he plans to fight the claim in court. Miller didn't return a phone call seeking comment Friday."No one had any reason to believe they were doing anything wrong in moving the aircraft is what the guys tell me," Fears said. "They say, 'Why would we move the airplane if we had a court order?'"
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