Debbie Mercer-Erwin, Wright Brothers Aircraft Title Inc, convicted by jury


Debbie Mercer-Erwin, the owner of Wright Brothers Aircraft Title Inc and Aircraft Guaranty Corporation, has been convicted of money laundering, wire fraud and two drug conspiracy felonies.

Mercer-Erwin was found not guilty of export and registration violations and not guilty on a third drug conspiracy count.

During the trial, prosecution told the jury that Mercer-Erwin, aged 60, “deliberately turned a blind eye to the criminal activity involving the planes she registered”, according to local news station WFAA.

In a statement made by Mercer-Erwin in December 2020, the month she was arrested, she admitted that 10 of the aircraft linked to her company had connections to drug trafficking. Two of these were found in Central America in 2019 carrying more than 3 tons of cocaine.

A forensic accountant testified during the trial that Mercer-Erwin funneled $75m from an escrow account of Wright Brothers to her alleged accomplice Federico Machado. The accountant said she pocketed $4.9m in escrow fees, as well as $142,000 in interest from the escrow account.

Mercer-Erwin said during the trial that she “didn’t have a clear understanding” of a ledger that was being sent in emails between her and Machado.

Following the verdict, Ernest Gonzalez, lead federal prosecutor said: “The message is that we are looking at these types of arrangements more closely, that there needs to be some changes. There needs to be some accountability. I think it’s vital for [aircraft trust companies] to know exactly where these planes are, who’s operating them and what’s being done.”

The jury returned their verdict after two-and-a-half days of deliberation, following 13 days of testimony.

Mercer-Erwin was denied bond by the Judge and was taken into custody to await sentencing. She was allowed to hug her husband and her daughter, Kayleigh Moffett. Before the trial Moffett pleaded guilty to wire fraud via email and not properly reporting that planes had been taken out of the country and accepted a five-year probation deal.


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