Platinum Jet Principals, Employees Plead Not Guilty

 - March 10, 2009, 12:09 PM

Two of the six people arrested and charged in connection with the 2005 Platinum Jet Management Challenger 600 crash at Teterboro (N.J.) Airport entered not-guilty pleas last Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. Joseph Singh, director of charters, and Brien McKenzie, director of maintenance, were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Newark. At a separate initial appearance earlier, bail was set for Singh at $100,000 and $350,000 for McKenzie. The two are scheduled for trial beginning May 12. Managing member Andrew Budhan and Platinum Jet pilot Francis Vieira were scheduled for an initial court appearance and arraignment yesterday. Platinum president Michael Brassington and his brother and vice president Paul Brassington are scheduled to appear in court on March 18. The court arraignments follow a 23-count indictment handed down on January 23 that included charges of endangering the safety of aircraft. They further allege that the defendants joined a conspiracy to defraud charter flight customers, jet charter brokers and the FAA through interstate wire communications. The charges stem from the 2005 crash in which the pilot was unable to rotate at a speed of about 135 knots and the aircraft subsequently left the runway without getting airborne, went through an anchor fence, crossed Route 46, hitting cars along the way, and slammed into the side of a clothing warehouse, where it burst into flames.