Charter Operator Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Business Jet Traveler » August 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - 5:00am

Andre Budhan, a cofounder of defunct charter operator Platinum Jet, has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to defraud customers and brokers and impede and obstruct the FAA. The case stemmed from the 2005 crash of a Challenger 600 following takeoff at Teterboro (N.J.) Airport. Budhan, who admitted that he and his coconspirators booked and operated about 100 illegal flights, faces 46 to 57 months in prison. He will also have to pay restitution to his victims and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. His five Platinum Jet codefendants have all pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in January.

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““When I made the film The Invention of Lying, they gave me a private jet for getting back and forth between New York and London. I thought, ‘I will never use it’ but I ended up using it every weekend. You turn up, right, and the airport is completely empty. I mean, there’s just someone at the desk and then the pilot, who says, ‘Are you ready to go?’ and you say, ‘Don’t you want to see my passport?’ and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I suppose I’d better.’” ”

-—actor and comedian Ricky Gervais