Thursday, November 24, 2011
TSA worker hall of shame, part 2: Thieves and other miscreants
Today I’ll focus on thieves, violent criminals and other miscreants working for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
TSA agent accused in stabbing murder of coworker
TSA worker Ruben Orlando Benitez, 45, of Jackson, Miss., was charged with murder in connection with the Sept. 18 stabbing death of coworker Stacey D. Wright.
Benitez worked as the assistant federal security director for screening in Mississippi, according to the Sun Herald.
Wright, 43, had recently been promoted to supervisory transportation security officer at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, the Sun Herald said. She was murdered in her apartment in D’Iberville, Miss., according to ABC affiliate WLOX.
TSA officer flashes badge, harasses other driver
An off-duty TSA agent was charged with driving a vehicle to harass or intimidate after he allegedly tail-gated, blew his car horn and flashed his badge at a woman who was driving too slowly for him, Reuters reported.
Donald Eichler, 63, was arrested July 26 in South Windsor, Conn., after the incident. The frightened woman called 911 and remained on the line until a police officer arrived. Eichler worked at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., NBC reported.
TSA baggage screener dismissed for hate-filled rants on Facebook
The TSA fired Roy Egan, a baggage screener at Chicago O’Hare Airport who reportedly railed against Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and homosexuals on his Facebook page, the ABC affiliate in Chicago reported Nov. 15.
Egan openly identified himself online as a TSA officer, posting comments such as, “filthy Muslim,” Muslims “need to be exterminated”, “burn Islam”, and “Does anything at all make you smile more than a Muslim burning by his own hateful hand?,” according to the Huffington Post.
TSA agent arrested for erratic behavior
A TSA agent was arrested on Jan. 3, 2010, in Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport, according to NBC LA. He had just gotten off duty and was behaving erratically, saying things like, “I am God. I’m in charge.”
Two TSA agents at JFK stole $40,000 from checked baggage
Two former TSA officers who worked at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York pleaded guilty Oct. 27 to stealing $40,000 from a piece of checked baggage, NBC and Queens Chronicle reported.
Coumar Persad, 44, and Davon Webb, 31, were convicted of third-degree grand larceny, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and official misconduct. (See also a New York Post story about their February arrests.)
TSA officer caught with stolen iPad in his pants
A TSA worker at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida was arrested in July on charges of stealing about $50,000 worth of electronics over the prior six months, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
Nelson Santiago, 30, was caught by a Continental Airlines employee taking an iPad out of someone's luggage and stuffing it into his pants, police said.
After being arrested on two counts of grand theft, police say Santiago admitted to stealing computers, GPS devices, video cameras, and other electronic gadgets from baggage he was supposed to be screening, the paper reported.
Memphis TSA agent guilty of theft
A former TSA screening agent at Memphis International Airport was found guilty of theft and making a false statement on Oct. 6.
The agent, Ricky German, was convicted of trying to steal a passenger’s laptop computer last December, according to CBS affiliate WREG.
Houston TSA officer charged with theft
A TSA agent at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston was arrested on theft charges in June.
An undercover officer gave the agent, Karla Morgan, a wallet he said he found with a thousand dollars inside. Morgan put the wallet in her backpack and walked out of the airport. She was arrested in the parking lot, according to ABC affiliate KTRK.
Newark TSA agent busted for theft
A lead TSA officer at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey pleaded guilty in February to stealing money from passengers’ bags as they underwent security screenings.
The officer, Al Raimi, admitted that he and his supervisor regularly stole money from travelers. Prosecutors say Raimi gave a cut of the cash to his supervisor, Michael Arato, who also pleaded guilty, according to NJ.com. Raimi stole between $10,000 and $30,000 cash over nearly a year.
Two TSA agents at LAX arrested for theft
Police arrested TSA officer Paul Yashou in June on suspicion of taking $30,000 worth of items from suitcases at Los Angeles International Airport, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The arrest came on the heels of TSA officer Ryan Driscoll being arrested in May on suspicion of stealing from a suitcase in another terminal at LAX.
Airport baggage screener sold stolen goods on eBay
In July 2009, Pythias Brown, a TSA screener at Newark Liberty International Airport, was sentenced to three years in prison for theft.
Brown used his position as a baggage screener to steal items from passenger luggage. He stole an estimated $200,000 worth of items, including jewelry, laptop computers and cameras.
As of May, about 500 TSA officers had been fired or suspended for stealing from passenger luggage since the TSA was created in November 2001, according to New York Press.
Los Angeles TSA agent aided pot smuggling ring, police say
Police broke up a marijuana smuggling ring at Los Angeles International Airport in October.
TSA employee Dianna Perez, 28, of Inglewood, Calif., was arrested on charges of accepting bribes to allow the smuggling of marijuana on flights, Fox News reported.
Millage Peaks IV, the son of a former Los Angeles fire chief, was charged with bribing the TSA officer at LAX to help him smuggle about 14 pounds of marijuana past security on nine separate trips, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Peaks told FBI agents he and his associates paid $5,000 to $6,000 in bribes to avoid detection, the LA Times stated.
TSA agents also have been arrested at airports in N.Y. and Connecticut for aiding drug smugglers.
Art: Screenshot of "Saturday Night Live" TSA parody from November 2010.