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14Dec/12Off

Jet Linked To Jenni Rivera’s Death Raises Questions

The plane crash that killed Latin music sensation Jenni Rivera has raised many questions that have produced few answers.

So far, this much is clear: Jenni Rivera, one of the most celebrated artists in the Latin world, died when her private jet went into a dive. The plane plummeted nose-first, 28,000 feet in 30 seconds, leaving its wreckage — and the remains of Rivera and six others — splayed across the side of the mountain like a wash of pebbles.

Cessna 340A

Cessna 340A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The investigation at the remote Mexican crash site is now in full swing, and authorities have not said whether they suspect maintenance problems or pilot error. But scrutiny has fallen on the plane and its pilots, one of whom was 78 years old. Interviews and documents link the jet to a troubled company — and an executive who was once imprisoned for faking the safety records of planes he bought from the Mexican government and sold to private pilots in the United States.

According to federal aviation records, the Learjet 25 carrying Rivera from a performance in Monterrey, Mexico, was built in 1969 and was owned by a Las Vegas company called Starwood Management LLC.

A Starwood executive, Christian E. Esquino Nunez, was accused of conspiring with associates in the 1990s and 2000s to falsify records documenting the history of planes they bought and sold — tail numbers, inspection stamps and logbooks. Esquino’s “fraudulent business practices … put the flying public at risk,” federal authorities argued in documents.

Coughlin prosecuted the case against Esquino in 2005, resulting in a guilty plea that sent Esquino to a federal prison in Lompoc, California for two years.

After his release from prison, Esquino was deported from Southern California to his native Mexico, where he lives today.

For 20 years, Esquino has been embroiled in a briar of legal allegations, many involving airplanes — a bankruptcy and a restraining order, criminal indictments and civil judgments, cocaine-distribution charges, even a role in an alleged conspiracy to airlift relatives of the late Moammar Kadafi out of Libya.

On Wednesday, Esquino said by telephone from Mexico City that the flight was not a charter as authorities have said. Rather, Rivera was in the final stages of buying the plane from Starwood for $250,000; the flight was offered as a free “demo.”

Esquino, 50, described himself as Starwood’s operations manager, and said he understood why his past would place him under scrutiny in the wake of the accident.

However, he said, the jet was perfectly maintained. He said the only conceivable explanation for the crash was that pilot Miguel Perez Soto suffered a heart attack or was incapacitated in some way, and that a younger co-pilot, Alejandro Torres, was unable to save the plane. (Authorities stressed that they have not determined a cause of the crash or whether the plane had any problems.)

Esquino said it was not a mistake to put a 78-year-old pilot at the helm of the flight. Perez had a valid license to fly in Mexico, authorities said Wednesday, but U.S. aviation sources said that in the United States, Perez was licensed to fly only under conditions that didn’t require the use of instruments and was not allowed to carry passengers for hire.

Esquino said he had known and trusted Perez for 30 years. “I couldn’t think of anyone more qualified,” he said.

Rivera, 43, a famed Mexican American performer, mother of five and master of a growing international business empire, was killed Sunday when the private jet carrying her and four members of her entourage crashed near Iturbide, Mexico.

Rivera had sold 20 million albums, lived in a massive estate in Encino, was preparing to make her American network television debut and was at the height of her career.

The same plane, according to U.S. aviation records, sustained “substantial” damage in 2005 when a fuel imbalance left one wing tip weighing as much as 300 pounds more than the other. The unnamed pilot, despite having logged more than 7,000 hours in the air, lost control while landing in Amarillo, Texas, and struck a runway distance marker. No one was injured.

Esquino called that accident “minor” and said the plane had flown without issue for 1,000 hours since then.

Starwood formed in March 2007, two months after Esquino was released from prison. He probably knew, federal officials said Wednesday, that he would be unable to receive a license to buy and sell U.S.-registered aircraft following the federal charges and his deportation. Nevada employment records list Esquino’s sister-in-law, Norma Gonzalez, as the sole corporate officer of Starwood. But according to allegations contained in court documents, it was Esquino — who has operated at times under the name Eduardo “Ed” Nunez — who was actually running the show.

According to a lawsuit filed in October in Nevada by an aviation insurance firm, Esquino is the “alter ego” of Starwood and had signed numerous documents on behalf of Starwood, including applications for insurance.

Stephen S. Kent, a Reno attorney who represented QBE Insurance Corp. in the main Starwood case, alleged that Esquino launched Starwood specifically to “get around” the rules restricting a foreign national’s ownership of U.S.-registered aircraft.

Esquino has disputed that characterization in court, and said Wednesday that he was stumped by what he described as a fixation over his role at the company. He said that Gonzalez, who could not be reached for comment, is indeed the owner of the company, but that “I’m the one with the expertise.”

Esquino had been tangled in legal problems for years. In 1993, he had pleaded guilty in federal court, according to his attorney, of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine. Later in the 1990s, according to court documents, his attorney acknowledged that Esquino knew that he had been the target of a DEA investigation into drug trafficking; he was not charged in connection with that investigation and Esquino said Wednesday that the notion he has ever been involved with trafficking is “absolutely wrong.”

In 2000, he was accused of helping to drive an air charter company that had operated out of the Chino, California airport into bankruptcy; that company obtained a restraining order against him. Last year, according to published reports, he testified to Mexican authorities that Starwood had been hired to fly relatives of Moammar Kadafi out of Libya.

Esquino, according to court documents, was ordered to pay Williams $100,000. So far, Williams said, he has received $1,300.

If a loved one was the victim of wrongful death that was caused by an aviation accident, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

The post Jet Linked To Jenni Rivera’s Death Raises Questions appeared first on Accident Attorneys' Group.

13Dec/12Off

Jenni Rivera’s Plane Nose-Dived Into Mountainside

Early Sunday morning, Latin singer Jenni Rivera tragically died in a plane crash. She joins a long list of artists and musicians who have died before their time.

The investigation into the plane crash that took the life of Rivera is focusing on the pilots and the condition of the plane.

English: Learjet 45 registered M-GLRS landing ...

English: Learjet 45 registered M-GLRS landing during Farnborough Air Show 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Officials also released dramatic details about the Sunday crash.

They said her private jet went into a dive. The plane plummeted nose-first, 28,000 feet in 30 seconds, leaving its wreckage — and the remains of Rivera and six others — splayed across the side of the mountain like a wash of pebbles.

Mexico’s Ministry of Communication and Transportation said the two pilots, Miguel Perez and Alejandro Torres, had valid licenses to fly in Mexico.

Rivera, 43, a mother of five and master of a growing international business empire, was killed when the jet plummeted 28,000 feet early Sunday morning and crashed near Iturbide, Mexico.

Authorities have said that Rivera’s camp chartered the flight from Starwood Management to ferry her from a performance in Monterrey, Mexico, to an appearance near Mexico City.

In a telephone interview from Mexico City, an executive at the firm that owns the plane, Christian E. Esquino Nunez, said that the Learjet 25 was perfectly maintained. Esquino, 50, said he believes the 78-year-old pilot suffered a heart attack or was incapacitated in some way, and that a “green” co-pilot was unable to save the plane.

Esquino said maintenance and safety issues “had nothing to do with the accident.” He said the 1969 Learjet had been based and maintained in Houston for the last 10 years, and underwent a top-to-bottom inspection this summer.

The same plane, according to U.S. aviation records, sustained “substantial” damage in 2005 when a fuel imbalance left one wing tip weighing as much as 300 pounds more than the other. The unnamed pilot, despite having logged more than 7,000 hours in the air, lost control while landing in Amarillo, Texas, and struck a runway distance marker. No one was injured.

Esquino called that accident “minor” and said the plane had flown without issue for 1,000 hours since then. He said the only conceivable explanation for the crash is that 78-year-old pilot Miguel Perez Soto was incapacitated. He said that while the Learjet was a fine airplane, “it has some critical characteristics.”

Mexican authorities said Starwood Management officials told Mexican authorities that Rivera was interested in buying the plane, and as a result, hadn’t paid to rent it.

Mexican authorities and the National Transportation Safety Board were continuing to investigate the crash “to formulate a hypothesis as to the cause of the accident,” the statement said, noting that the investigation could take nine months to a year to be concluded.

The remains of the passengers that have been found thus far, including Rivera’s, have been taken to the University Hospital in Monterrey, Mexico, where they will be analyzed by forensic experts there, the statement said.

If a loved one was the victim of wrongful death that was caused by an aviation accident, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

The post Jenni Rivera’s Plane Nose-Dived Into Mountainside appeared first on Accident Attorneys' Group.

12Dec/12Off

Jenni Rivera’s Plane Plunged Nearly 30,000 Feet

Singer Jenni Rivera joins a long list of artists and musicians who have tragically died in plane crashes.

New details emerged about the plane crash that claimed the life of Rivera as her family in Los Angeles sought answers.

English: Bajpe plane crash site photo

English: Bajpe plane crash site photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rivera, who lived in Encino, is believed to have died Sunday when her small plane crashed shortly after taking off in Mexico.

Mexican officials told reporters Monday night that they believed her plane dropped 28,000 feet at speeds that might have exceeded 600 mph.

Authorities said they believe they have found her remains but are awaiting DNA testing.

Rivera’s brothers said they still hold out some hope that she is alive but said they were prepared for the worst.

Scores of fans held a vigil outside the singer’s home, some singing Rivera’s songs and tearfully mourning her apparent death.

Candlelight vigils were held Monday night in Long Beach and Corona.

The Long Beach native was 43 and leaves behind five children. Mexico’s ministry of transportation did not confirm her death outright but said she had been aboard the plane and no one survived. Six others, including two pilots, also were onboard.

Rivera had performed a concert in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday night — her standard fare of knee-buckling power ballads, pop-infused interpretations of traditional banda music and dizzying rhinestone costume changes.

At a news conference after the show, Rivera appeared happy and tranquil, pausing at one point to take a call on her cellphone that turned out to be a wrong number. She fielded questions about struggles in her personal life, including her recent separation from husband, Esteban Loaiza, a former major league pitcher whose career included a stint with the Dodgers.

Hours later, shortly after 3 a.m., Rivera is believed to have boarded a Learjet 25, which took off under clear skies. The jet headed south, toward Toluca, west of Mexico City; there, Rivera had been scheduled to tape the television show “La Voz” — Mexico’s version of “The Voice” — on which she was a judge.

The plane, built in 1969 and registered to a Las Vegas talent management firm, reached 11,000 feet. But 10 minutes and 62 miles into the flight, air traffic controllers lost contact with its pilots, according to Mexican authorities.

The jet crashed outside Iturbide, a remote city that straddles one of the few roads bisecting Mexico’s Sierra de Arteaga national park. Wreckage was scattered across several football fields’ worth of terrain. An investigation into the cause of the crash was underway.

If a loved one was the victim of wrongful death that was caused by an aviation accident, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

The post Jenni Rivera’s Plane Plunged Nearly 30,000 Feet appeared first on Accident Attorneys' Group.