Pilot accuses mayor of holding plane for ransom after emergency landing in Bryan
A Louisiana man flying from Austin to Louisiana was forced to make an emergency landing in a field near Easterwood Airport in December.
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -A Louisiana pilot who made an emergency landing in Bryan, in December 2022, is facing a deadline of Friday, March 17 to remove his plane from the field where it landed.
In a pair of YouTube videos, the plane’s owner, Borrel Rene Jean Luc, claims he has been denied access to his aircraft and that the mayor of Bryan, Bobby Gutierrez, demanded a ransom of over $250,000 in exchange for its release.
The land where the plane landed is owned by the Bryan Business Council, a non-profit organization that leases the land to Rafter D Genetics, LLC, a private company specializing in artificial insemination and embryo harvesting for cattle.
According to lease documents released by the Bryan Business Council’s attorneys, Rafter D Genetics, LLC was granted grazing rights on the land for $1.00 a year. When asked if the council has other similar leases the council’s attorney, Mike Gentry, said the Bryan Business Council had no other grazing leases.
Rafter D’s owner, Cliff Dorn, says he allowed Guiterrez to bring his longhorn onto the property in a private agreement but says the emergency plane landing in December disrupted the breeding operation, resulting in financial loss for both him and Gutierrez.
Dorn also tells KBTX that he has not prevented the pilot from gaining access to the plane. He also clarified that he and Gutierrez entered into the private arrangement a couple of years ago, before Gutierrez was elected mayor, and stressed that he, not Gutierrez, leases the land from the Bryan Business Council.
In a statement, the council says after the pilot’s claims were shared on social media, the City of Bryan’s Economic Development Director, Kevin Russell, was asked to notify the plane’s owner that he has until Thursday to remove it from the property. When we asked why Russell, a city employee, was now involved in the matter, the Bryan Business Council’s attorney said Russell is the Staff Liasion for the BBC and provides administrative support to the organization.
The council says prior to this request, the owner of the plane had not contacted the council or its insurance company.
KBTX has been actively pursuing answers from the city and has reached out to the mayor, city, and attorneys involved in an attempt to get a better understanding of the contracts and how they were granted. The city has not responded to inquiries about the ransom claim made by the mayor, and the city manager, city attorney, and mayor were unavailable for comment.
The situation has sparked a heated discussion online, with many people expressing their opinions on the matter and questioning the mayor’s involvement in the lease. Attorneys representing the council stated that Gutierrez’s role in the council was as an ex-officio member with no voting rights.
The Bryan Business Council has emphasized that it is acting independently of the City of Bryan and that the council’s board acts independently of the city.
The Bryan Business Council is “a non-profit corporation that is separate and distinct from the City of Bryan, and which was formed for various economic development purposes including buying and holding land to be available for future multi-family housing, commercial, manufacturing, and industrial prospects” the statement said.
KBTX has reached out to Mayor Gutierrez to try and ask if the ransom claims by the pilot or true, but we were told on Wednesday by city staff that he nor the city manager or the city attorney were available to comment. Questions to Bryan Business Council’s attorney about the claims were directed to Gutierrez and his attorney. We also asked Dorn if that happened, and he said he had no knowledge of the allegations.
Below are documents related to this story obtained by KBTX including the Grazing Lease agreement between the BBC and Dorn. Also is the full statement released Tuesday to KBTX by the Bryan Business Council. This is a developing story. KBTX will update this story as new information is independently confirmed or verified by our newsroom.
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