NEWARK (WABC) — Six people connected to a company that operated a charter jet that crashed at Teterboro Airport in 2005 have been accused of conspiring to violate regulatory practices.
The flight failed to take off, smashed through a fence, crossed a busy road and slammed into a warehouse. No one was killed, but 20 people were injured.
Investigators said the flight crew did not properly calculate the plane’s centre of gravity after adding fuel.
In the federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, five officials and a pilot who worked for Platinum Jet Management of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., were charged with conspiracy to purposely violate regulatory requirements for operating commercial aircraft. The company is now defunct and no longer has a telephone listing.
The Caribbean net News reported that in a twenty-three count indictment on Wednesday, Platinum Jet co-founder Michael Brassington, a Guyanese pilot, who frequently flew Premier Michael Misick on the private jets chartered by the TCI government, was arrested in Florida on charges of conspiring to violate regulatory practices.
Along with Michael Brassington, fellow co-founder Paul Brassington, manager Andre Budhan, and maintenance director Brien McKenzie were also arrested on Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to purposely violate regulatory requirements for operating commercial aircraft, the article written by Tess Hannigan stated. In addition, arrest warrants have also been issued for charter director Joseph Singh, and pilot Francis Vieira.
The charges state that those running the now defunct Platinum Jet Management LLC routinely over-fueled aircraft to cut costs and falsified records required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
According to investigators, fuel loading contributed to 20 people being injured in the 2005 crash at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport.
Ralph Marra, New Jersey’s chief federal prosecutor, said Platinum Jet played a “dangerous game with passengers and airplanes loaded to the brim with jet fuel.”
Michael Brassington’s name surfaced recently in evidence given to the Commission of Inquiry by Misick.
On Friday, January 16, last year, senior Commission counsel, Alex Milne asked Misick about named individuals accompanying him on a flight by chartered jet to Portugal on April 18, 2007. In particular, Milne asked about Michael Brassington. “He was the pilot,” replied Misick.
“Was Mr Brassington someone who flew you on a regular basis?” Milne asked. “Mr Brassington is — while he is a pilot, he is also a broker, and I think he was the part owner of Aerojet,” Misick responded.
Milne persevered with his questioning: “Is he a regular pilot for you though? Has he flown you on other occasions?” “He has flown me on other occasions,” Misick confirmed.
Earlier US media reports claimed that a former Customs agent had implicated the same Michael Brassington, whose full name is Michael Francis Brassington, as part of a ring of corrupt Customs officials under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.
Brassington was also the co-pilot on a drug-running Lear jet (N351WB) caught by DEA agents at Orlando Executive Airport in July 2000 carrying 43 pounds of heroin.
The Guyanese pilot was in the news again recently, this time in his native Guyana, when he was named in a procurement scandal over the disputed purchase by the Guyana Defence Force of two antique 30-year-old helicopters from a ‘dummy’ company in Delaware.
It was further discovered that Brassington’s father, also named Michael Brassington, has close business ties with one of the most notorious oligarchs in the Russian mob, Oleg Deripaska, the “last man standing” in the Aluminium Wars in Russia during the 1990s for control of that strategic resource.
Brassington’s name also surfaced in connection with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, because he had been the co-pilot on the drug-running Lear jet (N351WB) owned by Wallace Hilliard. Hilliard also owned the Venice, Florida flight school where Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi were at the time learning to fly.
Further reports reveal that, in August 2005, a court temporarily revoked Brassington’s airline transport pilot certificate (Number 083722815) for falsifying manifest sheets and trip itinerary logs.
(Story compiled from ABC and Caribbean Net News)
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