WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk Sued for Allowing Private Plane to be Sold without Owner's Knowledge

Jun 16, 2016

A local bank is blaming the city of Keokuk for contributing to its private plane being sold without its permission. So State Central Bank is suing the city, the firm that manages Keokuk’s airport (Lindner Aviation), and its owner (Greg Gobble).

The lawsuit was filed in north Lee County District Court in Fort Madison on May 27, 2016.

In it, State Central Bank claims that it spoke with William Crews in March 2014. Crews is described as the owner of Skymaster Center, Inc., which states on its website to be a leader in selling airplanes similar to the Cessna 337 D Skymaster owned by the bank.

The lawsuit states that the bank decided not to sell the airplane after speaking with Crews. But Crews went ahead and listed the airplane for sale on his website.

“On March 17, 2014, William Hayes sent $5,000 to Crews as a deposit for the purchase of the Skymaster at the price advertised by Crews without the knowledge of [Bank Chairman William Logan] or the bank. Two days later, Crews sent Hayes a purchase agreement that identified Skymaster Center as the seller and did not even mention the Bank or [Logan] as parties despite the fact Hayes knew the true owner of the Skymaster was the bank,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that Hayes signed the agreement and arranged a pre-buy inspection of the airplane. The airplane was housed at Keokuk’s municipal airport, under the control of Greg Gobble.

“Hayes came to Keokuk on March 31, 2014 to do his pre-buy inspection and during the pre-buy inspection, he determined that ‘he liked the plane’ and authorized Lindner [Aviation] to do an annual inspection at a cost to Hayes of $3,276. Gobble failed to notify Logan or the Bank that Hayes had asked him to perform a significant maintenance operation on the Bank’s plane.”

Hayes eventually completed the transaction and waited for several days for a bill of sale, which he did not receive, before returning to Ohio. Roughly one month later, Hayes rented a plane and returned to Keokuk to pick up the airplane and fly it to Ohio.

“When Hayes arrived at the Keokuk Municipal Airport, the Skymaster had already been taken out of its hangar, the engines had been warmed up and a magneto check had been completed. Fred ‘unknown last name’ had also topped off the tanks and proceeded to give Hayes the plane’s log books which had been kept in the offices of Lindner [Aviation].

“Hayes flew the Skymaster back to Ohio where he continued to fly it on a regular basis for at least 25 lengthy cross-country trips. Gobble still did not notify Logan or the Bank that the Skymaster had been removed from the airport and the Bank’s rented hangar was now empty.”

It was not until Hayes tried to register the plane with the FAA that the bank learned he was in possession of it. The bank rejected the sale to Hayes and requested the return of the plane, prompting a federal lawsuit, which was eventually won by State Central Bank.

The bank’s lawsuit claims a Breach of Contract and Negligence against Keokuk, Lindner Aviation, and Greg Gobble, and seeks reimbursement for “all expenses incurred by Bank in defending its ownership and getting [the plane] returned to its possession and for such other relief as the court may determine in the interest of justice and equity.”