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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Former Newport News Airport Director Convicted of Multiple Charges

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Maryland man late yesterday on twenty-three charges of intentional misapplication of funds, money laundering, false declaration, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Kenneth R. Spirito, 47, was the Executive Director of the Newport News / Williamsburg International Airport from 2009-2017. In 2014, Spirito led and organized an effort for a start-up airline, People Express Airlines, Inc. (PEX) to obtain a $5 million loan from TowneBank that was guaranteed by the Peninsula Airport Commission (PAC), operators of the airport. Spirito intentionally misapplied various state and federally regulated funds to provide the cash collateral for the TowneBank loan.

When PEX suspended operations in September 2014, the PAC had to make payment on the loan default. Spirito subsequently provided false information to the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the source of the loan payments. In 2019, Spirito provided false testimony in a civil deposition regarding his role in the decision to do the loan guarantee and the funds he used as collateral.

Spirito faces maximum penalties ranging from ten to twenty years in prison across each count of conviction when sentenced on June 10, 2020. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police, and Jamie Mazzone, Regional Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa R. McKeel and Brian J. Samuels are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:19-cr-43.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated March 11, 2020