Platinum Jet Defendant Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy

 - June 23, 2009, 12:04 PM

Andre Budhan, a cofounder of defunct charter operator Platinum Jet, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a case relating to the 2005 crash of a Challenger 600 following an aborted takeoff at Teterboro (N.J.) Airport. Budhan, 42, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., yesterday to conspiracy to defraud charter customers and brokers, and to impede and obstruct the FAA. In doing so, he admitted he and his conspirators booked and flew some 100 illegal flights for more than $1 million. At sentencing scheduled for October 5, Budhan faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss caused by his offense, whichever is greater. In addition, Judge Joseph Greenaway, Jr. must order Budhan to pay restitution to the victims of his offense. As part of the plea agreement, Budhan agreed that under advisory U.S. sentencing guidelines, he faces an actual sentencing range of between 46 and 57 months in federal prison. Budhan has five co-defendants, including Platinum Jet cofounders Michael and Paul Brassington, director of maintenance Brien McKenzie, director of charters Joseph Singh and pilot Francis Vieira. All five have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to stand trial on January 19 next year.