Airline chiefs convicted over multi-million theft from passengers
The U.S. court convicted former chief executive officer and the former vice president of a now-bankrupt public air charter operator for their role in a scheme to steal millions of dollars of passenger money for future travel from an escrow account.
Judy Tull and Kay Ellison were both convicted on several counts of fraud following a seven-day trial. The executives participated in a scheme to steal passengers’ money for future travel from escrow account by artificially inflating the amounts and falsifying letters telling banks to release the money.
To cover up their fraud, the defendants falsified profit and loss statements to make the company look like it was making money rather than losing. These falsified documents were then sent to credit card companies and banks to trick them into continuing to do business with the company.
“Judy Tull and Kay Ellison stole passengers’ money to try and prop up their failing company,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “Their brazen scheme created a multimillion dollar shortfall that left passengers stranded at airports, and banks and credit card companies scrambling to pick up the pieces.”
Testimony at trial established that two financial institutions sustained losses of nearly $30 million for having to refund thousands of passengers their money that should have been held for them in escrow, but was actually stolen by the defendants as part of their fraud.
Tull and Ellison were both found guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
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