TSA Employee Pulled Drug Prank Twice

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A Transportation Security Administration employee who pretended to uncover drugs in a passenger's bag had played the prank more than just once.

Last January, the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story of Rebecca Solomon, a 22-year-old University of Michigan student who was the victim of a practical joke she felt was inappropriate. Solomon said a TSA employee at the Philadelphia International Airport had pulled her aside for an interrogation over a baggie of powder he "found" in her carryon bag. Fearing she had fell victim in the plot of a terrorist drug dealer, Solomon fought back tears as she was questioned, until finally the TSA agent smiled and admitted he was just joking.

TSA documents released on the Smoking Gun this week reveal Solomon was not the only victim to the worker's stunt, which occurred only 10 days after the attempted Christmas Day bombing.

According to the documents the mischievous worker, whose name is blacked out throughout the papers, was evaluating new screening equipment when he pulled the pranks. The worker was "collecting data for several new pieces of equipment that are currently being evaluated by Northrop Grumman" when he "began to engage passengers."

The TSA worker approached the first victim of his prank, a passenger who was gathering their belongings from an X-ray machine. According to the documents, the worker presented a small vile of creatine powder, a nutritional supplement that is white in color and appears to look like cocaine. He then asked the passenger, "Did this come out of your bag?"

When the passenger replied, "No," the officer again persisted by asking, "Are you sure?" According to the memo the traveler replied, "Yea, I'm pretty sure," and began to laugh. "Okay, just want to make sure. Have a nice flight," the officer replied.

After returning to his post to "begin another phase of the data collection," the officer decided to try the prank again. This time the prank did not go as smoothly.

The TSA worker approached two young women collecting their luggage from a conveyor belt, one of which was Solomon, and asked, "Do you have anything in your bag that you're not supposed to?" The passengers answered, "No," and the worker once again displayed the white powder. At this point, Solomon and the TSA employee's stories do not match up-she said he had a plastic baggie filled with powder, whereas the documents state the powder was in a vial.

"Did this come out of your bag?" he asked, according to the documents. "The passengers replied, 'No way. I don't even know what that is." The worker "concluded with, 'I'm just checking. I know it didn't come out of your bag, it belongs to me. You seem way too nice. Have a good flight."

According to the TSA memo, one passenger responded, "You almost had me."

The documents also reveal details of the TSA's interviews with other employees concerning the incident. Five employees witnessed the officer playing the pranks, but only one told the officer, "Don't do that," after a victim of the prank seemed upset. Additionally, only one of the workers informed a supervisor of the happenings at the security checkpoint that day.

When the TSA employee was confronted by an investigator, the officer "did say humbly that he was completely wrong and he made a mistake," according to the documents.

The worker is no longer employed by the TSA, but because of privacy laws it cannot be determined whether his departure was voluntary.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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