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Dekkers to be charged in fraud case

The state attorney's office has filed criminal fraud charges against Huffman Aviation Inc. CEO Rudi Dekkers.

"I don't know if the clerk will be able to process the paperwork today," assistant state attorney Jonathan Greene said early Friday afternoon, "but I have definitely filed."

Greene's signature appears on the information, a copy of which was provided to the Gondolier Sun Friday afternoon.

In the information Dekkers is accused of the third-degree felony of fraud involving a security interest.

"The fraud involving a security interest charge is like somebody giving a mortgage on something they do not own," Greene said.

The state statute under which Dekkers was charged (817.562 2b) states: "A person is guilty of fraud involving a security interest when ... having under the security agreement no right of sale or other disposition of the property, he or she knowingly secretes, withholds, or disposes of such property in violation of the security agreement."

A person convicted of the charge can be sentenced to state prison for up to five years, according to the statute.

Greene said the information will get processed through the system, which could take two weeks, and a judge would be asked to then sign a capias, or warrant, for Dekkers' arrest.

Dekkers: 'Wow, I'm surprised.'

Dekkers was reached for comment on the charges late Friday.

"Wow, I'm surprised," Dekkers said. "I can't believe it, I've talked to my attorney Charles Bartlett and he can't believe it either. He said it is highly unusual he was not notified, and wanted to know, 'How the hell can the newspaper know about it before I do?' "

Dekkers said the difficulties he and the parties named in the Venice Police Department Probable Cause Affidavit (PCA) arose from "many financial transactions," and all have been resolved.

"We're drawing the paperwork as we speak that resolves the deal," Dekkers said. "We have a deal, we know about it, everybody knows about it except the state attorney. We don't have problems anymore."

The charges

According to a Venice police PCA, 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 that this amount 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.

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 received any proceeds from the sale despite having a security interest in the property under the mortgage executed by Dekkers.

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 another company belonging to Dekkers, Huffman Aviation Inc.

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.

No city agreement with DAG

The PCA also states that Venice Airport Manager Larry Heath said the city had never had any business agreement with Dekkers Aviation Group. That was confirmed by Venice City Attorney Bob Anderson.

According to the affidavit, Anderson told investigators he had recently worked with the attorney for Triple Diamond, Steven Macris, regarding the sale of this property and the subsequent reassignment of the lease with the city.

Anderson said Macris had originally prepared a document to assign the property from Dekkers Aviation Group and Huffman Aviation to Triple Diamond, but Anderson rejected it because the city had had no dealings with Dekkers Aviation. The assignment was redone to indicated only Huffman Aviation was the assignor.

Blank piece of paper

Dekkers told investigators had 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 just found out at the closing for the building that the lease with the city was with Huffman.

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.

"I'm surprised, because Wally and I made a deal that everything was canceled," Dekkers said.

International attention

Dekkers 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 had lambasted 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 at:

By Tommy McIntyre

Staff Writer

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