MIAMI (CN) - Jet University, an unaccredited flight-training school, used brazen ruses to get its hands on student loan money, former students claim in three lawsuits.
Thirteen students sued the shuttered school in Miami-Dade County Court.
In one complaint, five former students say Jet U concealed that it "did not have any financing programs and was not recognized by the United States Department of Education nor the Florida Department of Education as an accredited postsecondary institution and had no legitimate financing options in place for its prospective students, despite Jet U's assertions that it did in fact have 'exclusive financing programs.'"
Some students say Jet U told them to list other schools on their loan applications, claiming that some of their instruction would take place at the other schools.
The say the whole ruse was just a scheme by the defendants "to divide the student educational loans and other paid cash proceeds among themselves."
Osvaldo Morales is the lead plaintiff in the case involving five former students. This complaint states that Jet University was open from 2006 to 2009.
Nonparty Heath Cohen was its president, and defendant Bradley Mark Ottosen managed the training program but was paid through his own corporation, defendant Universal Jet Training Center, the complaint states.
The complaint states: "Prior to the formation of Jet U, [nonparty] Gulfstream Training Academy, a flight training academy, located in Broward County, Florida, employed Cohen and Ottosen.
"Upon his termination from Gulfstream Training Academy, Cohen founded Jet U on or about January 2006 as a marketing arm for recruitment of students into a program offered by Simcenter Inc. ('Simcenter'). Through this arrangement, Cohen earned commissions for placing students into a Simcenter program that trained students specifically for placement with [nonparty] Custom Air Transport, a cargo airline operator.
"On or about April 2006, Simcenter's Custom Air Transport Program ended due to the sale of Custom Air Transport. As a result, a number of Simcenter's Custom Air Transport students were left out of a training program.
"Cohen transformed Jet U into a pilot training school of its own and targeted the stranded Custom Air Transport students, encouraging them to use any refund monies for tuition.
"Cohen and Ottosen used their connections from their employment with Gulf Stream Academy to encourage prospective Gulfstream Training Academy students to switch to Jet U. A number of students were contacted by Jet U after having expressed interest in Gulfstream.
"Via widespread marketing efforts in national flying print publications and through the Internet, including on its interactive website www.jetuniversity.com, Jet U purported to offer a fast track training program which guaranteed employment with its 'partner airlines' Pinnacle."
Pinnacle Airlines is named as a defendant.
According to the complaint, Cohen testified at a bankruptcy hearing that "Pinnacle entered into an agreement with Cohen and Jet U to hire Jet U students. Jet U also informed students and prospective students that Pinnacle was underwriting part of the cost of training with Jet U.