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Former Co-Owners of a Public Air Charter Operator Charged with Fraud

On December 10, 2015, Judy Tull, of Texas and Kay Ellison, of Kentucky, were indicted in U.S. District Court, Newark, New Jersey, on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and wire fraud for their alleged roles in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme. Tull and Ellison were co-owners of Southern Air & Tours, doing business as Myrtle Beach Direct Air & Tours (Direct Air), a public charter flight operator headquartered in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Tull was the CEO and handled Direct Air's flight operations, and Ellison was the managing partner and handled customer reservations. The indictment alleges that Tull and Ellison made or caused others to make "ghost" reservations for fictitious passengers in Direct Air's reservation system and submitted fraudulent documents, including requests for payment and summary reports to the bank. They also allegedly requested payment for certain amounts on two occasions and concealed the criminal activity and their participation in the fraud.

According to the indictment, in or around March 2012, Direct Air ceased operations and at that time, customers had purchased tens of thousands of tickets for future travel. The indictment alleges that the funds for the future travel should have been deposited into an escrow account; however, the escrow account was short $30 million.

Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.