Parts Brokers Sentenced to 30 Months Incarceration and Ordered to Pay Over $1,936,500 for Aircraft Parts Fraud
On July 7, 2010, Mariella Bianchi and Juan Beltran, owner and employee of The Airborne Group, an airplane parts broker company, were sentenced in U.S. District Court, Miami, Florida, to 30 months incarceration, 3 years supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,936,512.65 in restitution in a scheme related to aircraft parts fraud. The defendants were also ordered to forfeit $130,706 pursuant to a seizure in 2009.
DOT/OIG initiated an investigation based on information obtained from an anonymous complaint alleging that a conspiracy existed in which companies who were not approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or Department of Defense (DoD), had manufactured aircraft parts. These aircraft parts include aircraft skins, wings, and control surfaces for various aircraft including the U.S. Military version of the Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe, for the U.S. Air Force's (USAF) E-3 Sentry, Airborne Warning and Control System, and KC-135 Airborne Refueling Aircraft. In most cases, these manufacturers would not sell directly to the USAF, but instead sold to various brokers or authorized DoD contractors, who conspired with them to sell the substandard aircraft parts to the USAF. In cases where the customer required supporting FAA authentication documents, brokers would further conspire with FAA repair stations to falsify FAA forms, giving the illusion that the manufactured parts had been approved by the FAA and were suitable for installation on an aircraft.