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Fri, Mar 22, 2024

Employees Arrested for Defrauding Jumbolair Area Company

Pair Charged Company Card with Inflated Charges for Bunk Gas Receipts

One pilot has been arrested, with another on the run after a Florida production company was defrauded to the tune of about $800,000.

The company, Constellation Productions, was confused with the nearby Jumbolair Aviation & Equestrian Estates, thanks to its owner, John Travolta. He lives adjacent to the Jumbolair airpark, a famed aviation dream house that offers an impressive 7,550-foot airstrip. Travolta's old Boeing 707 in the driveway is the stuff of dreams for many, but just dipping toes into that world wasn't enough for two pilots employed by the star's operating company. The fraud came to pass by way of the ever-tempting "company AmEx", as many a fired employee can attest. 

The pilots singled out for the fraud so far include Jean-Paul LaCruz-Romero and Jorden Coursey, the latter on the run with charges of money laundering, fraud, and grand theft hanging over their heads. The grift was rooted in their company cards, issued to both in order to buy fuel in the course of normal operations. LaCruz-Romero's wife owns a nearby business called Lux Fuels, allowing him to charge Constellation artificially inflated charges for 'gas' while working. He had explained the use of such an unorthodox fuel provider by describing it as a "discount fuel company", an excuse that didn't fly for too long once someone in accounting started to dig into the discrepancy in costs for Jet-A. The LaCruz-Romero couple didn't really knock it out of the park covering their tracks at basically any level of the scam, either. He would buy the fuel from Luxe Fuels with his named card, and his wife later would send a portion back to his own firm, JPL Aviation. Not really the smartest way to defraud your employer out of the better part of a million dollars - smarter grifters know that having your name emblazoned on every link in the chain of custody is a rookie move. But that made the case pretty cut and dry for investigators.

The exact charges for LaCruz-Romero sit at $785,050 stolen across a number of receipts, and Constellation Productions said the resulting investigation ran an additional loss of $64,650 as they struggled to find the leak in their accounting books. An interesting aspect in all this: LaCruz-Romero is only 28 years of age, and doesn't have US citizenship. That works against him in this case, since the court will not issue him a bond as a "flight risk", but if nothing else it's an impressive job to have had so early in his flying career. (Though he probably won't be able to brag too much about being a bizjet pilot for Travolta, given how it ended.)

His accomplice/compatriot, Jorden Coursey, remains free, and local Marion County Sheriff's have put out a BOLO for him. He probably won't stay on the lam for too long, and it will be interesting to see what his side of the story amounts to.

FMI: www.jumbolair.com


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