Bryan mayor says aircraft ransom claims by ‘uninformed internet bloggers’ are false

In a statement shared today by his attorney, Bobby Gutierrez says he made several attempts to coordinate the retrieval of the plane after the pilot landed in a field owned by the Bryan Business Council.
KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 9:38 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2023 at 9:46 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -An attorney representing Bryan Mayor Bobby Gutierrez and his private business, La Pistola Cattle Company, issued a statement on Thursday addressing allegations that surfaced on social media that he demanded a ransom in exchange for releasing an aircraft that made an emergency landing in late December in a field near Easterwood Airport.

The plane’s owner, Borrel Rene Jean Luc, of Marksville, Louisiana, says he was blocked from having access to his plane in exchange for a $250,000 payment.

Gutierrez’s counsel says his involvement in the incident was as a private citizen and rancher, not in his capacity as the Mayor of Bryan. The field 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 transfer for cattle.

“At the time of Mr. Borrel’s landing, Mr. Gutierrez’s cattle business, La Pistola Cattle Company (“La Pistola”), in coordination with its paid consultant Rafter D, was gathering cattle on the BBC property for artificial insemination and to start an embryo collection process with the ultimate goal of selling the embryos to its customers,” said Gutierrez’s attorney Matthew Doss.

The statement further explains that La Pistola Cattle Company suffered substantial financial losses as a result of the interruption caused by the plane landing and that Gutierrez was only seeking to resolve the dispute with the airplane owner and his insurance company in an amicable and fair manner as quickly as possible.

“The artificial insemination and embryo transfer business being conducted by La Pistola Cattle Company and Rafter D is an expensive, time-sensitive process. Unfortunately, Mr. Gutierrez and his business La Pistola Cattle Company have been financially harmed (now in excess of $269,700.00) as a result of Mr. Borrel’s negligent conduct. Following the plane crash, Mr. Gutierrez advised Mr. Borrel and his insurance company of his desire to recover his business’ considerable financial losses.”

The mayor’s attorney went on to say Gutierrez never prevented Borrel or anyone else from retrieving his plane from the property and that “any reporting to the contrary is false and is actionable defamation.”

“Following the plane crash, Mr. Gutierrez, although not his responsibility to do so, made several attempts to coordinate the retrieval of the plane by Mr. Borrel with Mr. Borrel’s plane retrieval contractor and Mr. Borrel’s insurance company. On each of those occasions, the retrieval contractor canceled the retrieval through no fault of Mr. Gutierrez, La Pistola, Rafter D, or the BBC.”

“At no time did Mr. Gutierrez or La Pistola Cattle Company ‘ransom’ or ‘hold hostage’ Mr. Borrel’s plane in exchange for payment of money, which was sensationalized by uninformed internet bloggers. Mr. Gutierrez never prevented Mr. Borrel or his representatives from retrieving his plane from the BBC property.”

The statement further highlighted that cowboys and ranchers promptly came forward to aid the pilot in the aftermath of the emergency landing.

“After the plane crash, La Pistola’s cowboys immediately stopped their operation to render aid to Mr. Borrel and worked with the FAA as well as other emergency personnel to move the cattle.”

The statement also suggests that the pilot’s decision-making ability was brought into doubt when he was required to carry out the emergency landing.

“As Mr. Borrel was departing from an airport in Austin, Texas, Mr. Borrel reported that he observed problems with the air speed of his plane. Mr. Borrel refused to declare an emergency when asked by air traffic control on at least two occasions. Declaring an emergency would have permitted Mr. Borrel to land on the nearest runway available to him. Instead, Mr. Borrel continued towards College Station, Texas, and ultimately made his emergency landing on the BBC’s property. Mr. Borrel has since alleged that he crashed his plane due to engine failure,” the statement continues.

“It is critical for the public to understand that Mr. Gutierrez’s involvement in this unfortunate incident with Mr. Borrel was as a private citizen and rancher, not in his capacity as Mayor of Bryan, Texas. Mr. Gutierrez’s focus remains on working hard to serve the people of Bryan, Texas in addressing the community’s needs and promoting the City’s growth and development,” said Doss.

Borrel Rene Jean Luc had arranged to have a virtual interview with KBTX on Thursday afternoon but he opted to cancel the meeting based on the guidance of his lawyers.

The Bryan Business Council said Thursday that “the owner of the airplane has engaged Lone Star Retrieval to remove the airplane from the BBC’s property and the BBC expects that the airplane will be removed sometime the week of 20-25 March 2023.”

The BBC also shared this statement: “The BBC acquired this property for future development opportunities consistent with the purpose of the BBC. The BBC determined that it was in its best interest to lease the property for an agricultural purpose so that the property would be assessed for tax purposes as open land (agricultural use) rather than being assessed at its market value. The annual tax savings is significant. The BBC also valued having a tenant using the property to avoid waste, trespass, and other problems that might arise on open undeveloped land. You will note that the 10-year lease is subject to the right of the landlord to terminate at any time on 30 days’ notice. This provision of the lease provides the BBC with flexibility in the event that there is a development opportunity for all or any part of the property.”

The Brazos County Appraisal District confirmed to KBTX on Friday that the Bryan Business Council did not pay property taxes “on the land in 2022 because they are coded as an exempt organization under the City of Bryan. "

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. Earlier this week, the Bryan Business Council provided additional information to KBTX about its role in the city’s economic development and said it is “separate and distinct from the City of Bryan “and “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.”

Below is the full statement released Tuesday to KBTX by Doss & Rodriguez Attorneys at Law on behalf of Mayor Gutierrez and La Pistola Cattle Company, LLC. This is a developing story. KBTX will update this story as new information is independently confirmed or verified by our newsroom.