May 21, 2019
Airline President and Former Virginia Airport Commission Executive Director Indicted and Arrested
On May 21, 2019, Michael Morisi, president of People Express Airline (PEX), was arrested and charged with wire fraud, engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity, making and subscribing a false tax return, and failure to file tax return. A day earlier, Kenneth Spirito, former executive director of the Peninsula Airport Commission (PAC), which operates the Newport News/Williamsburg Airport in Virginia, was arrested and charged with violations of conversion and misapplication (i.e., the unauthorized use) of property from an organization receiving Federal funds, engaging in monetary transactions with property derived from unlawful activity, and falsifying records in a Federal investigation. Spirito and Morisi were indicted in U.S. District Court, Newport News, Virginia, on May 13, 2019.
According to the indictment, the two men schemed to obtain funding for PEX. Spirito allegedly offered to help Morisi borrow a $5 million from a local bank by guaranteeing the loan. PAC agreed to grant the authority to cosign the loan to Spirito, who created three bank accounts. He then transferred misappropriated State and Federal funds to the accounts and used the funds as collateral to guarantee the loan. Subsequently, PEX defaulted on the loan, and Spirito used the illicitly obtained funds to help Morisi make the payments.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and the Virginia State Police.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.