Tyler execs plead guilty to money laundering

 - February 1, 2007, 9:11 AM
Two top executives of Tyler Jet L.L.C. pleaded guilty last month in Texas Eastern District Court on one count of money laundering in a scheme that cost banks, businesses and individuals across the country nearly $20 million.

According to the office of the U.S. Attorney, former president and CEO Timothy Beverley, 47, and former CFO Gregory Hopper, 49, were accused of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

Under the agreement, the pair entered guilty pleas on one count of a 34-count indictment in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office called one of the most significant money laundering cases in recent years. The single count to which Beverley and Hopper pleaded guilty charged the two men with engaging in monetary transactions by financial institutions affecting interstate and foreign commerce and derived from unlawful activity.

A spokesman for the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas said, “Specifically [on the 24th count], Beverley and Hopper provided a repair estimate to a bank and to another company to have the other company secure a loan, which they represented was going to be used to repair an aircraft. After the loan of $300,000 was made, however, Beverley and Hopper diverted $280,000 of the loan proceeds to Tyler Jet for their own purposes and the repairs were never done.”
The two men face up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. As an alternative fine, in addition to the prison time, the court could order that they pay a sum up to twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction.

Judge Judith Guthrie entered a plea of not guilty for each defendant on all other counts of the indictment. However, as part of the plea agreement, assistant U.S. attorney Gregg Marchessault said he expects the other counts to be dismissed. Beverley and Hopper are free on a $25,000 unsecured bond each and will appear before U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis for sentencing at a date still to be determined. Beverley and Hopper entered the guilty pleas in separate appearances, at which Judge Guthrie expressed the hope that they could come out of the experience better people.

Marchessault said the plea agreements were reached “in hopes that the co-defendants will cooperate with the government and provide ‘substantial assistance’ in the prosecution of others involved in the money-laundering scheme.” However, he added that the plea agreements will not have an effect on any pending litigation against the two men.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Orwig used the occasion to warn others who might engage in similar schemes. “The defendants used their positions of trust to mislead people and fraudulently enrich themselves,” Orwig  said. “Corporate executives who engage in corporate fraud will be aggressively pursued.”

Tyler Jet was founded in 1986 and is currently operating as an FBO at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas. The company’s Web site no longer offers information with regard to aircraft purchase or sales. Until about four years ago, Tyler Jet was a thriving business that bought, sold and repaired aircraft, operated an FBO and ran a business aircraft interior completions and refurbishment center. In February 2002 Tyler Jet creditors forced the company to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which Beverley later amended in court to Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 1999, the aircraft interior completion and refurbishment side of the business was acquired by Air Group Aviation, now doing business as AvCraft Completions, also of Tyler, Texas.