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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Airline Kickback Scheme Rolled Up in Florida

WEST PALM BEACH (CN) - The former owner-operator of an airline services company was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison for paying kickbacks to defraud Ryan International Airlines, a charter airline, prosecutors said.

Robert A. Riddell pleaded guilty on Oct. 17 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud. He also must pay $131,540 in restitution.

He admitted conspiring to defraud Ryan by paying kickbacks to Wayne E. Kepple, a former VP of ground operations at Ryan, for Kepple to awardcontracts to Riddell's aviation security and ground services company.

Riddell and Kepple allegedly split the proceeds of fraudulent invoices submitted to Ryan for payment.

Rockford, Ill.-based Ryan provides passenger and cargo services for corporations, individuals, professional sports teams and the federal government, including the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service. Riddell's company provided ground security and other ground services for Ryan flights in Europe.

Riddell paid Kepple more than $330,000 in kickbacks from March 2006 through August 2009, according to court documents. Kepple was in charge of contracting with providers of goods and services and approving the invoices submitted to Ryan for payment.

Kepple pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud. He is awaiting sentencing.

David A. Chaisson and James E. Murphy pleaded guilty in August 2011 to conspiring to defraud Ryan by paying kickbacks to Kepple to win contracts for their companies. Murphy was sentenced in October to serve 23 months in federal prison and pay $42,500 in restitution. Chaisson was sentenced to 16 months in prison and ordered to pay $50,742.48 in restitution.

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