MIAMI – Federal authorities are investigating the owner of the Cessna twin-engine plane that crashed in the Bahamas, killing singer Aaliyah and eight others, according to court documents.
Gilbert Chacon is accused of withholding maintenance logs and records for the plane despite repeated requests by investigators to hand them over, according to a 26-page affidavit filed in support of a search warrant. The document also claims that Chacon lied about his connection to the airplane.
The plane crashed shortly after takeoff on Aug. 25 while making its way back to Florida from the Bahamas. A National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report released in September showed the plane was significantly overloaded.
Federal investigators searched Chacon's home and business this week for the logs and documents pertaining to his relationship with the pilot, Luis Morales III.
They wanted details on the origin of the flight, names of those involved in scheduling the flight and the plane's maintenance data. They confiscated a computer hard drive at his business — Blackhawk International Airways — but did not find much more than training forms and bank statements.
Chacon's attorney, Michael Moulis, called the searches a "fishing expedition," and said he expects his client to be indicted on obstruction of justice charges.
"We have cooperated fully. The requests for documents have been vague at best," Moulis said.
Initially, Chacon claimed he was not responsible for the crash. He told investigators that the aircraft was leased to Morales, but according to the affidavit, Morales told his father and neighbor that Chacon would pay him cash on a per-flight basis.
Blackhawk did not have permission from the Bahamas to conduct commercial flights there. To continue flying would be a violation of Federal Aviation Administration rules. The affidavit contends that was the motive behind Chacon concealing his responsibility for the plane.
Moulis said that even though Chacon has given up his operating certificate, the FAA is coming after him because it is intent on finding someone to charge criminally for the crash.