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#662: Man tied to case of child maid gives FBI the slip (fwd)


Published Tuesday, October 5, 1999, in the Miami Herald 
 Man tied to case of child maid gives FBI the slip
 Suspect's father leaves for Haiti  BY DAVID KIDWELL

 A Miami Lakes man under federal investigation for allegedly importing a
9-year-old Haitian girl as his family's maid left the country Friday
aboard an American Airlines flight after an FBI request to turn the
plane around was ignored. While federal authorities at Miami
International Airport waited at the gate expecting the plane to return,
they watched incredulously as it sailed for Port-au-Prince. Whether an
act of defiance or a result of miscommunication, the incident has
 prompted questions about federal authorities' ability to stop
international flights without an arrest warrant. American Airlines
officials apologized Monday for what they said was an honest
 mistake that followed a morning of law enforcement miscues and a case
of mistaken identity. In a complex case now emerging in both Dade and
Broward counties, Willy Pompee Sr., 43, of 8351 NW 167th Terrace, Miami
Lakes, is under investigation for his alleged part in bringing the girl
to the United States in 1996 to be a servant for the Pompee family.

 Pompee's son, Willy Pompee Jr., 20, is wanted by Pembroke Pines police
for allegedly sexually abusing the girl, who is now 12. Police issued a
warrant Thursday for Willy Pompee Jr., but can't find him. At the time
of the alleged abuse, both father and son lived in the Pompee home in
 Miami Lakes. No warrants have been issued for his father, a clothing
manufacturer who left aboard American Airlines Flight 1291 just before
noon Friday. Federal authorities declined to discuss details of their
investigation. ``We wanted to interview him, but we didn't have a
warrant,'' FBI spokesman Terry Nelson said. ``We didn't have any legal
way to detain him. I guess the captain of the flight has the final
say.'' Federal aviation regulations say law enforcement has the
authority to stop or turn around any plane at any time, experts said.
 According to federal law enforcement sources close to the case, here's
what happened: About 13 minutes before Pompee was scheduled to depart
MIA aboard American Flight 377 at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Miami-Dade
detectives telephoned the U.S. Customs Service at the airport asking
that he be detained. Miami-Dade detectives investigating the alleged
rape of the girl had seen the name on a passenger list and mistook
Pompee for his fugitive son. U.S. Customs boarded the flight and
escorted the older Pompee from the plane, where he was taken to an
interview room. When Miami-Dade detectives arrived they realized he was
the father. After a 90-minute interview, they escorted Pompee back to
the ticket agent and asked that any penalties for the missed flight be
waived. The ticket agent entered the reason in the computer as ``a case
of mistaken identity.'' Pompee was booked on Flight 1291 departing at
11:30 a.m.


 About seven minutes before that plane was set to depart, the FBI called
Customs to stop him again. This time it was not a case of mistaken
identity; federal officials wanted to interview the father. By the time
Customs inspectors got to the gate to stop the plane it had pulled
 away from the gate and a ground crew was disconnecting the jet from the
tug on the tarmac. Customs investigators approached the crew chief and
told him to return the plane to the gate. The crew chief got on the
radio to talk to the pilot. He told Customs inspectors the pilot had
agreed to steer the plane back to the gate. But instead, the plane
 took off. ``We feel they were appropriately notified,'' said Michael
Sheehan, a Customs spokesman. ``We have to give them permission to
depart, and we had rescinded that permission.'' He said Customs is
investigating whether fines should be issued to American Airlines for
defying the law enforcement request.


 John Hotard, an American Airlines spokesman, said once Willy Pompee Sr.
was cleared as the wrong man, a dispatcher in Forth Worth thought the
second request to stop him was a mistake. Hotard said once the plane
took off, the FBI still had the authority to contact the control tower
and force it to turn around, but opted against it. ``We publicly
apologize to Customs for the misunderstanding,'' Hotard said.
 ``Somewhere here there was a mistake made. It was an honest mistake on
our part. We thought, and we were told, they had the wrong person. When
it got reopened, someone got left out of the loop. ``We in no way meant
to defy that request.'' Federal authorities declined to discuss whether
they plan to charge the older Pompee, but said in any case the United
States has an extradition treaty with Haiti.