Posted May 14, 2008 by Zak Patten
And one big headache for American Airlines' accountants. To recap, (at least) five Chicago-area men conspired to defraud American out of $5,911,954 by creating phony invoices that billed the carrier for parts and services that were never delivered.
According to CBS News in Chicago, Gary M. Aumann, Donald E. Down, and Thomas Alessi pleaded guilty to "one count of mail fraud" after spending 10 years (1997 to 2007) bilking the airline. Apparently, Aumann's position as Facilities Maintenance Manager of American Airlines at O'Hare International Airport came in handy, because he was in charge of ordering and paying for items from vendors.
I'm no hardcore law-and-order guy, but doesn't one count of mail fraud seem like a lightweight sentence? I mean, these guys spent a decade scheming and stealing. It's not like they sent an email pretending to be a Nigerian prince with some short-term cash-flow problems.
Anyway, those phony invoices? They came from Mr. Down, who operated A & D Supplies and Addison Business Supplies. I wonder if those companies ever actually supplied anything to anyone, though we do know they sent more than $3 million in bills to American. Thomas Alessi, on the other hand, never let it get out of control. He only scammed the airline for a little over a million.
Two other people, one of whom is listed as age 70, were also indicted. They had bank accounts into which American deposited these payments. You have to admire a septuagenarian who still wants to use his skills to make a contribution to society. I guess Social Security just doesn't cut it anymore. Nice going, Grandpa!
Apparently, this little gang spent the stolen money on motor vehicles and boats, as well as property. At least they used it to purchase travel-related items. You'd hate to imagine all those airfares we pay being wasted.
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