Pilot Blames Bosses for Months in a Hellhole

     HOUSTON (CN) – A 66-year-old charter jet pilot spent 5 months in a “disgusting” Panamanian prison after his employer made him fly a suspected drug dealer who smuggled $2.3 million into the country, the pilot claims in court.
     Carl Moody sued American Jet International Corp. dba Million Air Charter and several affiliates, in Harris County Court.
     “Plaintiff was hired by AJI as a pilot in March 2011,” the complaint states. “When he was hired by AJI he was 66 years old. As a new hire, Moody participated in training programs and only flew charters within the continental United States.
     “AJI had previously entered into a business relationship with Dilleman Solorzano (aka Giovanni). Mr. Solorzano chartered planes from AJI for domestic and international flights. Many of the charters included trips to Columbia, Honduras, Panama, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.
     “A majority of the flights chartered by Mr. Solarzano were paid for in cash. Mr. Solorzano would give the cash payments, as much as USD $200,000 at a time, to the pilots of the charter. The pilots would have to claim the payments through U.S. Customs. The payments were packaged in stacks of bills, wrapped in heavy black plastic, bound by rubber bands. Mr. Solorzano paid approximately USD $5 million dollars for charters from AJI over a twelve month period. The funds from these payments were commingled among the defendants.
     “Some of AJI’s pilots raised concerns about Mr. Solorzano’s charters. Specifically, AJI’s pilots were concerned that Mr. Solorzano was involved in illegal activity, given the locations of the charters, the significant cash payments, and the packaging of the cash. These legitimate concerns were brought to AJI’s attention but ignored, and AJI represented to those pilots that they should not worry about Mr. Solarzano, as it was fine to transport him internationally and to continue to accept his cash payments.
     “AJI made these representations to the pilots, including plaintiff, even though AJI was aware that U.S. government law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), had previously investigated Mr. Solarzano and his activities, and continued to do so.”
     Solorzano is not a party to the complaint.
     Moody claims he knew nothing about Solorzano when AJI assigned him to fly him on his first international flight for the company.
     “The flight was chartered by Mr. Solarzano for a flight from Bogota to Panama,” the complaint states. “The next day, Mr. Solorzano chartered the plane from Honduras back to Panama. For each of these charters, Mr. Solorzano arranged for the travel of his associates and their luggage. Plaintiff was the copilot assigned to each of those flights.
     “Once the plane landed back in Panama, it was searched by Panamanian law enforcement officials. In Mr. Solorzano’s associates’ luggage, the officials found USD $2.3 million in cash. The funds were packaged in stacks wrapped in heavy black plastic and secured by rubber bands, consistent with Mr. Solorzano’s method of packaging cash payments for AJI for his chartered flights. Although Moody knew nothing about the luggage, Moody and the others on the plane were arrested and subsequently charged with money laundering.
     “As a result of his arrest, plaintiff was incarcerated in a Panamanian prison for approximately 5 months. He was required to live in inhumane conditions. Plaintiff was housed with drug dealers, sex offenders and murderers. He was subjected to disgusting germ- and vermin-infested living conditions, daily threats on his life and well-being, and the anxiety of not knowing if he would ever regain his freedom or simply die in a Panamanian prison.
     “In addition, Moody was separated from his family and friends and had to deal with the possibility of never seeing them or holding them in his arms again.”
     Moody seeks punitive damages for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, gross negligence, fraud, fraud by nondisclosure, intentional infliction of emotional distress and corporate disregard.
     Also named as defendants are REW Investments Inc., Houston Aviation Partners LLC, Woolsey Aviation Inc., Million Air Lackland LLC, Go Fayetteville LLC, Reno Aviation Partners LLC, Gulfport Aviation Partners LLC, Tallahassee Aviation Partners LLC, Million Air Interlink Inc. and Roger Woolsey.
     Moody is represented by Robert Davee, with Mills Shirley, of Houston.

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