TSA Supervisor Accused of Stealing Cash From Passengers
Officials says Michael Arato and a co-conspirator stole as much as $700 a day in cash from passengers' carry-on bags.
The two screeners targeted their victims, mostly women flying home to India who did not speak English, reports The Star-Ledger newspaper.
Authorities say the men, both hired in 2002, began stealing from passengers more than a year ago. They sometimes operated in tandem – one man distracting a passenger while the other rifled through her bag looking for cash and peeling off a few bills.
The men were reportedly blatant in their thievery, even splitting up the cash in front of airport security cameras, and joking about their crimes. Arato looked up at a security camera at one point and raised his middle finger, authorities say.
As the boss, Arato also made his subordinate give him half of anything the man stole.
The co-conspirator, who was not publicly identified, spent a month secretly cooperating with investigators from the Port Authority Police Department and Department of Homeland Security.
Authorities say between Sept. 13 and Oct. 5, Arato stole thousands of dollars from passengers going through security checkpoints for AirIndia, at the airport's Terminal B.
This is not the first TSA screener bust at Newark - last year a screener admitted to taking $400,000 in electronics and jewelry from checked bags.
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Photo, Hunter-Desportes, flickr