A former employee of a major US airline based in Long Island City, New York, was arrested and charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering over allegations that he agreed more than $1 million in bribes to divert orders for aircraft parts from two companies whose owners were paying him bribes.
Keily Nunez, 37, of New Jersey, allegedly fraudulently approved more than $10 million in aircraft parts orders on behalf of the airline, which was only identified by prosecutors as “Company 1”. Nunez’s Linkedin profile claims he worked for Long Island City-based JetBlue Airways for more than 20 years.
As a technical buyer, Nunez was responsible for sourcing aircraft spares from so-called “aftermarket aircraft parts vendors”. Nunez was soliciting quotes from various vendors to get the best deal for the airline. Part of the sourcing process was to use the services of trusted and already used sellers.
In 2018, Nunez is accused of requesting that a company called Sumit LLC be added to the airline’s internal parts ordering system, misrepresenting that Summit LLC was the same company as Summit Corp that the airline had used for coins in the past – in fact, Summit Corp went bankrupt eight years ago.
Nunez is accused of authorizing purchase orders worth over $1.5 million between the airline and Summit LLC and in return, prosecutors say Nunez received tens of thousands of dollars in jars -de-vin from the owners of Summit LLC.
Over a number of years, the fraud reportedly grew in scale and included a second Florida-based company. In the end, the airline may have spent over $10 million on aircraft spares at wildly inflated prices, while Nunez and a co-conspirator received substantial kickbacks.
“As alleged, the defendants were at the head of a corrupt scheme to defraud an airline by diverting contracts to suppliers in exchange for more than a million dollars in bribes,” commented the prosecutor American Breon Peace.
The men behind Summit LLC – Julien Levy, 37, and Ivan Santos, 41, have also been arrested and detained, while the man behind the Florida-based company, Rominik Soni, is due for arrest on Wednesday.
If convicted, the men face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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