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Charter Jet Company Officials Arrested in Connection with a 2005 Plane Crash

On February 4, Platinum Jet Management, LLC, (PJM), co–founders Michael Brassington and, Paul Brassington, company manager, Andre Budhan, and maintenance director, Brian McKenzie were arrested by Special Agents of the DOT/OIG and Federal Bureau of Investigation in part for their alleged involvement in events related to the 2005 plane crash at the Teterboro New Jersey Airport. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded that the aircraft’s center of gravity was incorrect and contributed to the crash. The arrest stemmed from a January 23, 2009 indictment which charged the individuals, along with two others, Joseph Singh, and Francis Vieira with conspiracy, making false statements and destruction of an aircraft. According to the indictment the individuals conspired to violate regulatory requirements allowing the company to operate as an air charter operation without holding the required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificate pursuant to Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 which provides operating and safety requirements for on–demand commercial air operations. The indictment also alleges that Michael Brassington, Francis Vieira and others falsified the weight and balance configurations for several PJM aircrafts in an effort to load extra fuel onto the aircraft. According to the indictment, PJM flew more than 25 commercial charter flights utilizing two separate aircrafts with centers of gravity that exceeded the aircrafts’ forward limits, and lied about it in FAA required documents, and operated in excess of 85 commercial flights without Part 135 certification. This investigation was conducted by DOT/OIG with the assistance of the FAA’s Eastern Region’s Flight Standards Division. Note: As in any criminal case, a person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The charges filed merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.