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The case of the missing holy flights

Started by sdanyaro, November 14, 2002, 04:33:16 PM

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Source: Stephen Van Drake  
              South Florida Business Journal
              November 11, 2002

Call it a flight to nowhere and a massive spiritual grounding for Islam's holiest pilgrimage - the Al Hajj to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Call it a Jihad-like legal battle in Miami-Dade circuit court.

Or call it a $1.6 million scam of nearly 6,000 Nigerians as a law suit alleges.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement economic crimes unit this week confirmed it has been notified of the situation and is "looking into it," said Victor Johnson, Miami-based FDLE special agent.

In a lawsuit filed in May, Kaduna, Nigeria-based Pigeon Travels and Tours claimed 5,760 Muslim Nigerians paid two now-defunct South Florida companies $1.6 million to charter roundtrip flights from Kaduna to Mecca in February for Islam's 2002 Hajj.

Islam requires every able-bodied Muslim to complete the Hajj once in a lifetime: a spiritual rite of passage to the Ka'bah in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - the No. 1 Islamic shrine.

But Tradewinds International Airlines and South American Airlines, both of Sunrise, flew away with most of the money, never producing planes, said William E. Davis of Miami's Buchanan Ingersoll, lead lawyer for Pigeon.

Pigeon Travel also sued owners of Tradewinds and South American: Joseph Diez aka Capt. Jerry von Diez of Miami, Martin Diez aka Martin von Diez of Davie and Frank Diez.

Despite attempts to access Tradewinds principals through Florida Secretary of State records, none could be located for comment.

Davis said he was only able to locate and serve Martin Diez in Miami with legal papers. The Diez defendants also represented that both Tradewinds and South American, inactive Florida corporations, are registered in Peru, he said.

Pigeon Travel also sued Summit Group, a Columbia, S.C.-based airline broker, which acted as Pigeon's agent to hire charters with Tradewinds and South American, Davis said.

Pigeon's complaint seeks an injunction to freeze funds and sues on theories of breach of guarantee, fraud, unjust enrichment, violation of a fiduciary (trust) duty and also asks the court for a complete accounting of the $1.6 million.

In initial filings in the case, Summit fought keeping the case in Miami, but Davis said this week after months of legal wrangling, Summit consented, and now is beginning the process of taking depositions.

The Bruce Jenner connection
Summit answered its phone, "Bruce Jenner Aviation." Summit President Frederick "Rick" Crout this week said Bruce Jenner Aviation is a Summit subsidiary.

At Jenner Aviation's Web site, the company likened its ability to deliver results to Jenner's 1976 Olympic gold medal decathlon victory. A picture of Jenner in competition adorns the site.

"We know that to earn your trust, our mark has to be set high and we must deliver as promised," the site reads.

Jenner did not respond to a request for comment through his Alexandria, Va., agent, Keppler Associates.

Court records show Summit on Jan. 18 wrote Pigeon that Summit would refund the Nigerians the $1.6 million if the two Florida charters didn't provide the services they said they would.

In February, Pigeon initially demanded the refund. Summit reneged, court records show. Summit's lawyer, Michael Peterson of Miami's Salas Edge Peterson & Lage, declined comment.

Summit, Davis said, kept $192,500 for itself as a brokerage fee.

"Now, it claims that it only has $100,000," Davis said. Those funds are now frozen through a court order.

Davis said that about $400,000 was paid to South American, and $133,000 to Martin Diez, who is acting as his own lawyer.

"The rest of the money is unaccounted for," Davis said. "But Tradewinds is being aggressively defended."

Tradewinds' attorney Roy Lustig of Coral Gables did not return four phone calls seeking comment for this story.

In Summit's formal response to Pigeon's complaint, however, Lustig wrote that Tradewinds "no longer has a place of business."

Tradewinds also countersued Pigeon, alleging Pigeon interfered with Tradewinds' relationship with a Portuguese airline to fly pilgrims to Mecca.

"That's an absurd claim," Davis said.

After Summit refused to refund the $1.6 million, things got dicey for Pigeon in Nigeria as it was still on the hook to deliver the pilgrimage. Pigeon borrowed money to fly 3,000 of the 5,760 Nigerian pilgrims to Jeddah. But it needed $973,000 more to bring them back.

"Only a fraction [of the original pilgrims] went," said attorney Joseph K. Williams III of Pittsburgh, who referred the case to Davis. "There just weren't enough return flights to get these pilgrims back."

Worrying about being jailed
In a Feb. 12 letter to Summit executive David Stone, Pigeon's flight operations director, Cpt. Daniel Omale, wrote, "Summit Group must find a way to solve this problem before we are thrown in jail here in Nigeria for criminal misappropriation and pay huge damages for breach of contract."

Omale said he had made tentative arrangements with YES Airlines of Portugal for the return flight. But Omale told Stone that Pigeon's Nigeria-based Intercity bank, which financed the one-way flight to Jeddah, refused further credit.

"Everybody is looking at me as having stolen the money," Omale wrote Stone.

Davis said he had no clue how the plight of the 3,000 stranded Nigerian Muslims ended.

Davis' partner, Jill A. Cook-Edwards, unsuccessfully tried to reach her Nigerian clients to comment for this story.

Frequently, U.S. "oddball" airlines get involved in chartering pilgrims to Mecca, said Don Boyd of Miami Lakes, a retired airfield supervisor for Miami International Airport.

Who is Capt. Jerry von Diez?

So, it may be no surprise that Pigeon responded to Tradewinds' solicitation posted at, an Internet bulletin board.

There, it said Tradewinds had a Boeing 747 configured to hold 550 coach passengers available for the "coming Hajj operations."

"Contact Capt. Jerry von Diez, CEO of Tradewinds International Airlines, SAC DBA Carlin Airlines located in Peru," the ad stated.

Davis said he doubts Jerry von Diez exists.

Is this Diez a commercial passenger jet FAA-licensed pilot? Not according to the FAA, its spokesman Roland Herwig said this week. No such name pops up on its pilot registry radar.

At another Web site,, Tradewinds lists its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. Its listed phone number and e-mail address, however, are disconnected.

Source: Stephen Van Drake  
              South Florida Business Journal
              November 11, 2002


Safety and Peace


Would it interest you to know that I am the David Stone in the report.  The real crooks are in Miami and in KADUNA!


Quote...The real crooks are in Miami and in KADUNA!
you should have just told us your own side of the story.
cuz as things stand right now, no one is going to do business with David Stone... not with this hanging over his head.



Mr. Jerry Von Diez, has a trail of sad events, going back many years ago. Way before this particular incident, Diez intended to start an Airline out of Lima Peru. He movilized personnel, authorities, and lawyers, to get the Certificate. When the time came to show up with the real money, that was the end of it. Promised to be employees were left wondering what had happened.
In December 2000, calling himself President of Tradewinds International Airlines, he approached a Sirian/Dominican called Nemen Nader, offering a 747 for a series of charter flights out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, using the name of Nader's business, APA INTERNACIONAL AIR.  Mr. Nader himself,  had also attempted to rise an airline in Spain and South Africa, places that he eventually fled, leaving behind unpaid bills and creditors. Ironically, he did the same in Argentina, and currently works for the Government of Ecuador, as financial advisor !!
Mr Diez true intentions were to get a sufficient deposit from Nader and use it to certify his Airline (Tradewinds Peru) in Peru. Since Nader never came up with the funds to support this kind of venture,Von Diez immediately backed off. It is important to mention that, during the time he was attempting to close a deal with Nader, Jerry Von Diez and his family had to move out of a house in West Pembroke Pines, Florida, because he could not afford the rent.
A couple of months after the deal with Nader fell, he was charging again, saturating the internet, offering a DC 8 freighter with certificate out of Lima Peru. No need to say, the truth was far different from the advertisement.
Jerry Von Diez, hiding behind his son's name (Martin Von Diez), kept his "bait" fresh, to see who would take the hook. Several more deals went sour, and/or ending in default.
They had both recrutied good industry people, with the promise that some day they will get a job. Some of these professionals, worked for many months and have yet to see a dime.

Jerry Von Diez, has not appeared again, but he is in the U.S., and not behind bars. Unfortunately, there are many others like him out there, so be very careful and always do a proper backgroud verification before engaging in this kind of business.
Demand to see a copy of the Air Operating Certificate, and Insurance. They should have the name of the Airline or party offering the services. Otherwise, you are dealing with a broker, and the results in many cases, can be catastrophic.

David Stone

Martin Diez in Jail!

I am happy to report that Martin Russel Diaz will be spending the rest of his life in prison.  He Kidnapped a 7 year old girl from her mother at gunpoint and using a police badge and uniform.  He returned the girl to her grandparents that night.  Martin saw that the girls mother was leading a decadent life as a stripper and benevolent angel that he is, he saved her from this house of sin. His charges: Kidnapping, Armed Kidnapping, Impersonating a law officer while committing a felony, unauthorized possession of a handgun, etc.

Whenthey searched his home, the FBI found boxes of falsified documents that were used to fax to me, making it appear the airline was for real.

I have found his father, Jerry. Jerry scammed Nigeria Airways out of $1.5M for the 1999 Hajj as well.  I have their bank records, their computer IP addresses, passwords, etc.

I will be the end of Jerry Von Diez. Real name: Jose Diez, Joseph Diez.
Residence: Burlington Vermont.
He has a daughter in Burlington who covers up for him and will only pass him a message.
Warning: He is back doing bisuness out of Canada using an alias.

I will pay anyone $500 for a recent photo and any other scams he has pulled besides Summit/Pigeon, Nigeria Airways and P.T. Mandela Airlines of Indonesia.

David - Phone 803-319-7297



To the man who called and left the message about news on Jerry Diez, my email is and business phone is 803 749 0885.

Please contact me with the information you have.

Thank you,

David Stone :!:
tone Aviation International