Sixteen South Florida Residents Charged with Operating Hialeah Commercial Aircraft Cockpit Window Repair Company Without FAA Certifications
A twenty-one count indictment unsealed by federal officials late last month charges sixteen south-Florida defendants in connection with the continued operation of ATR Aircraft Transparencies Repair Inc., a Hialeah-based company that overhauled large commercial aircraft cockpit windows, despite having had their FAA certificate to operate revoked.
Arrested were defendants Rangel Fernandez, 41, of North Miami Beach, Ivan Fernandez, 66, of Miami Lakes, Dennis Romero, 48, of Hialeah, Lisbet Gonzalez, 43, of North Miami Beach, Luis Balarezo, 48, of Miami Lakes, Saul Hernandez, 46, of Hialeah, Hermes Reyes, 58, of Hialeah, Pedro Leon, 47, of Hialeah, Aileen Bermudez, 57, of Hialeah, Geovanni Hernandez, 29, of Hialeah, Francisca Diaz, 53, of Hialeah Gardens, Chabela Aneiros, 57, of Hialeah, Ivonne Portales, 43, of Hialeah, and Diego Garcia, 65, of Hialeah, and Myrian Cobo, 39, of Orange Park. One defendant, Jerry Frystak, 67, of Seminole, remains at large.
The indictment charges Rangel Fernandez, Ivan Fernandez, Jerry Frystak, Dennis Romero, Lisbet Gonzalez, Luis Balarezo, Saul Hernandez, Hermes Reyes, Pedro Leon, Aileen Bermudez, Geovanni Hernandez, and Francisca Diaz with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Rangel Fernandez, Dennis Romero, Saul Hernandez, Pedro Leon, and Hermes Reyes were additionally charged with aircraft parts fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 38. Dennis Romero, Lisbet Gonzalez, Geovanni Hernandez, Chabela Aneiros, Myriam Cobo, and Ivonne Portales were charged with wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. Hermes Reyes and Diego Garcia were also charged with mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. Finally, Rangel Fernandez was charged with visa fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546. If convicted on the conspiracy count, the defendants each face a maximum
statutory sentence of up to twenty years in prison. If convicted of aircraft parts fraud, the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of up to fifteen years in prison. If convicted on the wire and mail fraud counts, the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of up to twenty years in prison. If convicted on the visa fraud count, defendant Rangel Fernandez faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to five years in prison.
According to the indictment, between August 2009 and August 2010, the defendants falsely certified to commercial aviation customers that the aircraft cockpit windows they sold were airworthy. In fact, however, the defendants knew that they were not authorized by the FAA to certify the airworthiness of aircraft cockpit windows. To execute their scheme, the defendants purchased “as removed” aircraft cockpit windows in the open market and then backdated numerous documents, including FAA Form 8130-3’s, work orders, and traceability documentation, to make it appear that the aircraft cockpit windows had been retrieved from ATR’s inventory while its FAA Repair Station Certificate was still valid. As well, the defendants allegedly altered the serial numbers on the aircraft cockpit windows that had been sent to ATR by the commercial aviation customers to make it appear that the aircraft cockpit windows had come from inventory rather than from the true commercial aviation customers.
Lastly, the indictment alleges that the defendants created at least three different internal accounting records and logs to misrepresent the true business practices and financial condition of ATR to make it appear as if ATR was no longer in the business of repairing and certifying the airworthiness of aircraft cockpit windows. Additionally, some of the defendants filed false unemployment compensation requests with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Unemployment Compensation Program, to further the illusion that ATR was out of business.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.