Thursday, May 20, 2010

TSA agent arrested for stealing almost $500 from wheelchair user at Newark Airport

From NBC New York:

A Transportation Security Administration agent has been arrested for allegedly stealing nearly $500 dollars from a wheelchair bound passenger as she passed through a security checkpoint at Newark Airport.

Leroy Ray allegedly went into the disabled woman's bag as it passed through the X-ray machine.

Ray was caught on surveillance video on February 3, 2010, reaching into the woman's bag to steal an envelope of cash, according to a criminal complaint.

The 50ish year old woman, investigators said, was from North Jersey and was flying out of Newark to visit relatives overseas.

She apparently checked her purse several minutes after going through security, found the missing money, and went back to complain.

The victim reported $300 dollars in cash in a white envelope was missing as was $195 dollars that was in a zippered pocket of the bag. When the woman returned to the C-1 checkpoint to complain, Ray allegedly left his post and quickly left the area.

When Ray returned to the checkpoint, he allegedly saw the woman there and then went to the Lost and Found office to turn in the envelope, the feds alleged.

TSA's own Inspections Division helped uncover the alleged wrongdoing.

The TSA emailed NBC New York a statement "TSA will continue to move swiftly and decisively to end the federal career of any employee who engages in illegal activity on the job."

In screening more than 2 million passengers a day nationwide, the TSA's Ann Davis told us 23 security officers have been "removed/terminated for theft from the check point or checked baggage" since the beginning of 2007.

Ray, an eight-year veteran of the TSA who also appeared to hold a job with a private security firm, had no comment on leaving the federal courthouse.

But his attorney, Brian Hill, said "I've known him for a long time and everything about these allegations appear to be out of character for him."

Ray, 45, was released on $1000 bail after an appearance in federal court in Newark.

Meanwhile, fliers at Newark Liberty Airport today were aghast at the charges.

"I watch it like a hawk," said Lynne DeSherbinin of Norwalk, Conn. of her possessions, just before catching a flight out of Newark.

But another flier, Jose Ramirez, of Piscataway, N.J. admitted "They're federal employees so you wouldn't expect like that to happen to you."