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Dekkers arrested

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"Dekkers, a Dutch national, drew international attention shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when it was learned that the two terrorist ringleaders who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center Twin Towers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, took part of their flight training at Huffman."

Dekkers arrested

Attorney: Charge is totally unfounded

VENICE -- Former Huffman Aviation owner Rudi Dekkers has been arrested on a warrant charging him with fraud involving a security interest.

Collier County Sheriff's Office deputies made the arrest last week, according to Jack McGill, Dekkers' attorney. McGill said Dekkers was released on $1,000 bond.

The charge is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison upon conviction.

"Now that we are involved and can go forward, we can show that the charge is totally unfounded," McGill said. "Even the victim has signed a waiver of prosecution because he understands it is a civil matter."

McGill said he has talked to assistant state attorney Jonathan Greene and told him he has documents to show the charges are unfounded.

"He said 'If it's basically as you say, I'm certainly not going to prosecute something I can't prove in court,' " McGill said.

Greene filed the charges against Dekkers Jan. 17.

"He's been telling me he has documents for 60 days and I haven't seen any yet," Greene said late Wednesday. "If he shows me the documents, I'll look at them, but I did not give him any indication I would not go through with the prosecution, never any indication I was backing down."

Greene said a waiver of prosecution is not in and of itself enough to drop the case.

"If the parties want to work something out after the case has been prosecuted, that's fine," he said, "but it normally would not effect the prosecution."

The charges

According to a Venice police probable cause affidavit, Dekkers, acting as president of Dekkers Aviation Group Inc., entered into a loan agreement with Kenneth Jossart on Oct. 17, 2001.

The deal was brokered by a mutual business partner, Wallace Hilliard. Dekkers obtained $200,000 from Jossart and signed a promissory note indicating the loan was due and payable on Jan. 15, 2002.

To secure the loan, Dekkers, still acting as president of Dekkers Aviation Group, entered into a mortgage agreement on property at 220 E. Airport Ave., Venice. The mortgage indicated that Dekkers Aviation Group is the mortgagor and Jossart is the mortgagee.

"They needed security so they came to Rudi and asked him to do it," McGill said, "so he put up security."

In August 2002, Dekkers sold the building at 220 E. Airport Ave. to Triple Diamond Enterprises. As of Oct. 2, 2002, the date the PCA was signed by investigators, Dekkers had not repaid the loan to Jossart.

Jossart did not receive any proceeds from the sale despite having a security interest in the property under the mortgage executed by Dekkers.

McGill said Dekkers took the loan in the name of Dekkers Aviation.

"Rudi didn't prepare the mortgage papers," he said. "The loan was supposed to be paid off by the time he sold the building to Triple Diamond. He thought it was paid off."

No interest, no security

The property involved in the agreement is located at the Venice Municipal Airport and is leased from the city of Venice.

Hilliard discovered that although the mortgage was completed by Dekkers for Dekkers Aviation Group, the actual lease with the city was with Huffman Aviation Inc., which Dekkers owned at the time.

"The problem was when he bought the building he bought it through Dekkers Aviation," McGill said. "He thought he owned the building."

Hilliard was unable to record a lien on the property because Dekkers Aviation Group did not have a legal interest in the property. That left Jossart with no security for the original loan agreement -- no way to get repayment of the loan through the sale of the property, according to the PCA.

The PCA also states that Venice Municipal Airport Manager Larry Heath said the city never had any business agreement with Dekkers Aviation Group.

Blank piece of paper

Dekkers told investigators he had never seen the details of the original mortgage. He said that Hilliard came to him and had him sign a blank piece of paper that Hilliard told him was for a collateral agreement.

Dekkers further stated that he found out at the closing for the building that the lease with the city was with Huffman.

"It's a screw-up," McGill said. "It didn't get properly recorded."

Dekkers said he did not think Dekkers Aviation had an obligation to repay the loan because the money had gone into another company run by Hilliard, Florida Air.

According to the PCA, Hilliard said Dekkers had signed the completed paperwork and was aware of the loan agreement and the mortgage. He said the money had gone to Florida Air, a company that Dekkers had been involved in at one time.

Hilliard told investigators that Dekkers Aviation Group's payroll had been paid by Florida Air.

International attention

Dekkers, a Dutch national, drew international attention shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when it was learned that the two terrorist ringleaders who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center Twin Towers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, took part of their flight training at Huffman.

Critics blasted Dekkers, claiming he had not followed procedures and regulations in allowing Atta and Al-Shehhi to train at Huffman.

However, Dekkers claimed vindication of any wrongdoing in March 2002, when it was shown by Immigration and Naturalization Service documents that he followed government rules in allowing the terrorists to enter his flight-training program in September 2000.

You can e-mail Tommy McIntyre


Staff Writer

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