Witness admits lying in charter jet company case

AP News
Posted: Oct 28, 2010 8:25 PM
Witness admits lying in charter jet company case

A former official of a charter jet company charged with falsifying flight records and violating safety regulations admitted Thursday he lied to a grand jury about his knowledge of the company's practices.

Joseph Singh testified in the conspiracy trial of two founders of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Platinum Jet Management and the company's head of maintenance.

Brothers Michael and Paul Brassington and maintenance chief Brien McKenzie are accused of falsifying records to hide the fact they were running illegal commercial charter flights. One of the now-defunct company's jets crashed on takeoff at Teterboro Airport in 2005 and slammed into a warehouse, injuring 20 people.

Prosecutors allege the investigation into the crash uncovered a conspiracy by Platinum to skirt safety regulations and load up on cheap fuel at airports like Teterboro by understating their planes' weights on official documents.

A federal investigation concluded that the crash plane's center of gravity was too far forward because the plane was carrying excess fuel.

None of the defendants is charged with causing the crash, but Michael Brassington faces one count of endangering an aircraft.

Singh, Platinum's director of charters, pleaded guilty last year to fraud and faces up to five years in prison.

On cross-examination Thursday, he admitted that he told a grand jury he didn't know the difference between commercial and noncommercial flights but contradicted that statement at his guilty plea. He also admitted changing his story about whether he had assigned the pilot to the flight that crashed.