Former Platinum Jet Pilot Gets Six Months Prison Time

Pilot Francis Vieira, 61, who had previously pleaded guilty to charges related to the 2005 takeoff crash at Teterboro Airport of a Challenger 600 operated by defunct Platinum Jet, was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison and an additional six months of house arrest. According to U.S. District Court papers, Vieira entered a guilty plea on the charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to defraud the U.S. The court further noted that from November 2002 to November 2003, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based charter operator Platinum Jet did not have a Part 135 certificate and, despite the lack of proper certification, “Vieira and his co-conspirators agreed to operate Platinum Jet as a commercial jet charter company and flew several dozen illegal charter flights.” Three of Vieira’s co-defendants—Michael Brassington, Paul Brassington and Andrew Budhan—will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh in Newark, N.J., in the coming weeks. Joseph Singh, former director of charters, was sentenced last Tuesday to one year of probation and ordered to pay $200,000 restitution to victims of the operation. Contract pilot John Kimberling, who was in the cockpit at the time of the Teterboro crash, is being tried separately in Florida. Charges against a sixth Platinum Jet employee, director of maintenance Brien McKenzie, were dismissed earlier this year.

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