Former Pilot of Defunct Private Jet Company Admits to Defrauding the FAA and Flying Illegal Charter Flights
On September 27, 2010 Francis Vieira, a former pilot of now-defunct charter jet company Platinum Jet Management, LLC (Platinum Jet), a luxury charter jet company based out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, pled guilty to the lead count of the Superseding Indictment, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to defraud the United States as part of a scheme to mislead charter customers and brokers and to impede and obstruct the FAA.
Mr. Vieira flew for Platinum Jet from January 2003 until February 2005, the month that one of the company jets crashed after takeoff at Teterboro Airport. This investigation revealed that from November 2002 through November 2003, Platinum Jet did not have FAA authority to fly commercial charter flights. Despite not having FAA charter authority, Mr. Vieira and his conspirators agreed to operate Platinum Jet as a charter and flew several dozen illegal charter flights. They falsified load manifests by indicating that certain flights were private flights instead of chartered flights subject to FAA charter regulations. Mr. Vieira admitted that on more than two dozen occasions, he fraudulently altered the weight and balance graphs for the jet that crashed at Teterboro by changing the weight and center of gravity that were printed on those graphs. He also admitted to doing the same thing on another Platinum Jet aircraft.
On October 12, 2010, four of Mr. Vieira's co-defendants are scheduled to stand trial in U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey, while two others have already pled guilty to conspiracy charges. Sentencing for Mr. Vieira and the others who have pled guilty is pending the outcome of the October trial.
Please click the accompanying link to read the entire press release from the United States Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey.