Airline Maintenance Company Found Guilty in 1996 ValuJet Crash

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - A Miami, Florida jury on Monday found airline maintenance company, SabreTech, Incorporated, guilty on nine counts of mishandling hazardous materials in the ValuJet crash that killed 110 people in the Everglades in 1996 but acquitted the company along with two employees of more serious conspiracy charges.

In the first criminal trial over a commercial jet crash, SabreTech was found not guilty of making false statements. Two former employees of the company were acquitted of the same charges. They had faced sentences of up to 15 and 55 years.

Media reports say that SabreTech faces up to $4.5 million in fines plus restitution to the victims' families. The Phoenix-based subsidiary of St. Louis-Sabreliner Corporation was driven out of business after the crash and must go through another trial on murder and manslaughter charges.

Crash investigators blamed the accident on a cargo fire caused by used generators removed by SabreTech from other ValuJet planes and delivered by SabreTech to the ill-fated flight. The generators were classified as hazardous waste prohibited from flying again but were loaded as cargo by ValuJet workers.

In July, a federal indictment accused SabreTech, its maintenance supervisor Daniel Gonzalez, and mechanics Eugene Florence and Mauro Valenzuela with conspiracy to put the company's financial interests ahead of safety and making false statements to the FAA and the Department of Transportation. Valenzuela is on the run and faces charges of contempt of court for failing to comply with conditions of his release.