A New York court has sentenced a former employee and a supplier of JetBlue Airways to 20 and 40 months imprisonment, respectively, for defrauding the airline of about USD10 million by diverting millions of dollars from airline part contracts.

Julien Levy and Keily Nunez were sentenced on May 3 at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York after they pleaded guilty to committing honest services wire fraud in June and July 2023, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Between July 2017 and June 2021, Levy had bribed now-former JetBlue employee Nunez and an unidentified co-conspirator to approve more than USD1.5 million worth of invoices between JetBlue and Levy's company, Summit Aviation Supply LLC, according to the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon S Peace. Nunez also accepted bribes in connection with his approval of more than USD8.5 million in parts invoices between JetBlue and Alaris Aerospace Systems LLC, a Florida-based aircraft parts seller that the co-conspirator controlled.

"The defendants abused their positions of power to orchestrate a scheme that defrauded JetBlue Airways out of millions of dollars. Levy and Nunez went as far as manipulating the identity of a deceased airline employee to circumvent the company's policies and procedures with the sole intention of enriching themselves," explained Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York special agent in charge, Ivan J Arvelo.

Nunez was previously sentenced to two years' imprisonment in connection with this role in a separate scheme to defraud the United States Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan programme of USD1.5 million through submitting false loan applications.

ch-aviation has reached out to JetBlue Airways for comment.