Businessman Linked to Jenni Rivera's Plane Falsified Flight Logs
12/11/2012 - 16:47 ||
The news just keeps getting worse and worse. It seems now that a Mexican businessman, who is linked to the company owning the jet that crashed and killed Jenni Rivera along with six others, has been convicted of forging aircraft records, counterfeiting government inspection stamps and drug-trafficking charges, according to Univision.
Christian E. Esquino Nuñez, who also owes millions of dollars in state and federal taxes as well as an undisclosed amount to the norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, is being investigated by Mexican authorities and authorities from the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) in regards to the crash.
Mexico's Secretary of Communications and Transportation identified the plane used by Jenni Rivera as one belonging to Starwood Management, a Nevada-based company with Nuñez heading up the firm's business activities.
In 2005, the same year that there was another malfunction on the same plane that later crashed, a federal grand jury convicted Esquino Nuñez and his business partner Lance Z. Ricotta on charges of "creating false and fictitious logbooks" for six aircraft that Nuñez had purchased from the Mexican government and sold to buyers in the United States.
According to the court records, Nuñez obtained tail numbers, airport codes, pilot licenses and even counterfeit inspection stamps with the intent of forging logbooks. Because the records were used to sell the planes at significant mark-ups to buyers who thought the planes' conditions, flying records and time in flight were much better than they were.
"Forging the logbook is very dangerous given the lives of passengers at risk," said aviation expert Hector Rotundo in an interview with Univision News.
The plane used by Rivera was not cited in the lawsuit. Nuñez pleaded guilty and spent two years in prison. He was later deported to Mexico. A decade earlier, he was indicted in Florida on drug trafficking charges. He pleaded guilty in 1993 to conspiring to conceal from the IRS "the existence, source and transfer of cash," and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Though Nuñez's whereabouts are unclear at present time, his troubled past has come to light recently as he's involved in two civil lawsuits that were filed this year in federal court by two insurance companies that say he hid his felony convictions when signing policies for Starwood's aircrafts. In a weird twist, Starwood is claiming that Nuñez is not directly involved with their company.
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