NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The two men at the center of a scandal involving a now-defunct airline that flew out of the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport pleaded not guilty.
The former executive director of the airport, Ken Spirito, and the former head of the People Express airline, Mike Morisi, entered the pleas during a hearing Monday morning.
Both men are charged with crimes involving federal funds.
Spirito was the Executive Director of the airport from 2009 until he was fired in 2017. He was indicted last month on charges including conversion and misapplication of property from organization receiving federal funds.
The charges against him involve the airport’s loan to People Express. The airline, which flew out of Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport, folded in 2013.
State funds were pulled from the airport in 2017 after officials claimed millions of tax dollars were misused to pay off a loan of a failed start-up airline.
Morsi faces several charges including fraud and tax evasion.
Both men requested a trial by jury, which has been set for Nov. 19.
The prosecution asked the judge to designate both cases as “complex” because of the amount of information involved and the time it will take to go through all of it. The judge granted that for both trials.
Spirito also requested changes to his bond status, asking the court to allow him to request travel through the probation office for both business and personal reasons. The judge granted that request.