TSA Agents Busted for Stealing from Passengers at JFK
Persad Coumar, 44, and Davon Webb, 30, were arraigned last night on a slew of charges relating to the alleged heists, says Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown. They are both being held on $15,000 bail.
Coumar allegedly X-rayed a piece of baggage bound for Argentina on January 30 and spotted a bag of money, according to a criminal complaint. He called Webb, who was assigned to a baggage belt area for American Airlines in building 56 at JFK and alerted him about the bag with the money, indicating that it probably belonged to a drug dealer, prosecutors said.
Webb searched the bag, found the cash, and marked the bag with tape. He called Coumar and confirmed the cash was inside. The men then met in the baggage area, found the bag wrapped in tape, and "observed what appeared to be approximately $170,000 in the bag,'' the complaint states.
Coumar allegedly grabbed $40,000 in cash, stuffed the money into his clothing and met Webb in an airport bathroom where they divvied up the proceeds of the swiped loot.
Another TSA agent reported his colleagues to his supervisor who then called Port Authority Police, Brown said. A search warrant was executed on Coumar's home in Queens, NY that turned up $23,980 in cash. Webb had stashed $16,000 at his home in the Bronx.
"TSA agents hold a position of trust and are supposed to search passengers and their baggage to ensure the safety of the flying public – not to enrich themselves,'' Brown said. "Passengers must feel secure when they pass through our airports here in Queens County that they are not being targeted by those who would use their position of authority to steal the possessions of others."
Brown said the TSA plans to fire both men, who are charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, fifth-degree conspiracy and official misconduct. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. He also noted that it was an honest TSA agent who reported the theft.
A TSA spokesperson called the suspected rogue agents' actions "disgraceful" in a statement.
"TSA has a zero tolerance policy for theft in the workplace. The disgraceful actions of a few should not reflect negatively on the approximately 50,000 TSA officers across the country who work each day to keep the traveling public safe,'' the statement said. "TSA is working closely with law enforcement authorities to ensure the individuals responsible are prosecuted and we will move swiftly and decisively to end the federal careers of any employee who engages in illegal activity on the job."
Earlier this week another TSA screening supervisor at Newark Liberty International Airport admitted to taking kickbacks from an underling who stole cash from airline passengers.
And last year, another TSA supervisor, Randy Pepper, 50, was federally charged with stealing valuables from baggage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Pepper was fired in July 2009 after another TSA worker saw him in the act, removing items from the luggage he was charged with inspecting as part of his job. Surveillance video confirmed the thefts.
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