Former JetBlue employee charged with taking kickbacks in exchange for lucrative contracts: Feds

JetBlue scammers
A former JetBlue employee is charged with taking kickbacks worth more than $1 million in exchange for steering lucrative contracts to companies operated by his co-conspirators. (QNS/File)

A Jamaica man was arrested late last month and charged in an elaborate kickback and money laundering scheme to rip off JetBlue of more than $1 million, according to an indictment unsealed in Brooklyn federal court.

Keily Nunez, 42, a former JetBlue employee, and his three co-defendants Ivan Santos of New City, New York, Ramnik Soni, of Parkland, Florida, and Julien Levy of Englewood, New Jersey, were charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, federal prosecutors said.

As alleged in the indictment, between July 2017 and June 2021, Levy, Nunez, and Santos conspired to defraud JetBlue in Long Island City, where Nunez accepted more than $1 million in kickbacks in exchange for steering JetBlue aircraft part purchase orders to Summit Aviation Supply, LLC, a New Jersey-based company controlled by Levy and Santos; and to Alaris Aerospace Systems LLC, a Florida-based company controlled by Soni.

Summit LLC and Alaris secured more than $1.5 million and $8.5 million, respectively, in purchase orders from JetBlue during the conspiracy.

In order to carry out the scheme, Levy used his position at JetBlue to establish Summit LLC as a JetBlue business partner and falsely represented to JetBlue that Summit LLC was another entity, Summit Corp., that JetBlue had previously partnered with.In reality, Santos established Summit LLC and opened bank accounts in its name, and Levy created an email account in the name of an individual who had been associated with the defunct Summit Corp., that was used as an alias to communicate with JetBlue on behalf of Summit LLC. Nunez approved approximately 37 purchase orders between Summit LLC and JetBlue valued at more than $1.5 million.

In exchange, Nunez received multiple kickback payments representing a percentage of the purchase orders directed to Summit LLC. In addition, following his termination from JetBlue, Nunez continued to steer purchase orders to Summit LLC and Alarisin in exchange for a portion of the invoiced amounts.

Nunez carried out a similar scheme with Soni and Alaris between March 2017 and July 2019 when he allegedly approved approximately 109 invoices between Alaris and JetBlue valued at more than $8.5 million. In exchange, Nunez received wires totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars sent from Alaris to bank accounts to a consulting entity that he controlled.

In order to disguise the source and nature of the funds Summit LLC received from the scheme, Santos and Levy made multiple transfers of the proceeds from the JetBlue payments between bank accounts in their names.

“As alleged, the defendants were at the helm of a corrupt scheme to defraud an airline by diverting contracts to vendors in exchange for more than $1 million in kickbacks,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “This Office is committed both to protecting the integrity of the bidding process and ensuring that businesses compete on a level, honest playing field.”

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.