Sticky Fingers


JF-Expert Member
Feb 11, 2007
SEATTLE, Wash. -  Local and Internanational travellers in the United States should be wary and watchful of airport pre-flight security screeners who work for the U.S. Transport Security Administration.

TSA security agents from New York to Hawaii have been arrested and charged with stealing passenger cash, medications and other valuables, a QMI Agency investigation found.
This spring, two big cases involving three screeners shook public confidence in the U.S.
Two male screeners - one a supervisor - were charged with stealing cash from female tourists who spoke little English at screening checkpoints Newark, N.J., while a female screener did the same in Kona, Hawaii.

In March, former New Jersey TSA screener supervisor Michael Arato pleaded guilty to charges that he stole - and also let a subordinate TSA screener, Al Raimi steal - from passengers at checkpoints at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Arato also admitted accepting bribes and kickbacks from Raimi, who stole between $10,000 to $30,000 in cash from travellers at checkpoints. Raimi has pled guilty and awaits his sentence.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said Arato made robbing passengers a game. Citizens and tourists should not have to worry about being victimized by people whose job it is to protect them.

In Hawaii, Dawn Keka, a lead screener at Kona Airport, was charged after a sting operation caught her taking $100 bills from a passenger's wallet. She was fired, pleaded guilty and was jailed for 60 days.
A TSA spokesman said it's terminated 335 officers for theft since 2003.

Several busy U.S. airports have known or reported theft problems involving TSA screening officers. Here are cases gathered by the QMI Agency that highlight the problems:
Houston, Tex.: Veteran TSA screener Karla Morgan, 49, was charged with stealing a wallet containing $1,000 in marked bills following a police sting. An undercover agent posing as a passenger handed Morgan a wallet, saying he had found it at security. Morgan allegedly did not turn it in when she walked by two uniformed police officers. She was arrested in the parking lot at the end of her shift. The wallet was found in her backpack.

Little Rock, Ark.: TSA screener Christopher Burley, 33, was charged in 2010 with stealing painkillers from a female passenger at Little Rock's National Airport. The woman noticed missing pills from her medicine bottle and complained. The theft was caught on camera. Burley was terminated. He plead guilty to a charge of obtaining drugs by theft and was ordered to undergo drug treatment.

Memphis, Tenn.: TSA screening agent Ricky German, 48, was charged with trying to steal a passenger's laptop computer last December. A passenger accidentally left his laptop behind at the security area. When he returned, German twice denied he knew anything about the $1,200 machine. Surveillance video showed German carrying away the laptop and throwing away papers with the owner's name on it. After police arrived and indicated they would view the surveillance video, German then claimed he found the laptop. German denies the theft but was removed from his security post.

Las Vegas, Nevada: In March 2004, a TSA screener admitted to stealing after a passenger complained that $100 was removed from her purse. A month later, a TSA official expressed concern that there had been an unusual number of theft reports at McCarran. In September 2004, video surveillance showed a Las Vegas screener pinch a passenger's wallet.

Newark, N.J.: In May 2010, TSA screener Leroy Ray, 44, was charged in federal court with pocketing $495 while inspecting a woman's purse. Prosecutors said Ray, who had worked for TSA since 2002, searched the handbag on Feb. 3 after it exited an X-ray machine in a plastic bin. The wheelchair-bound woman complained her money was missing minutes later. Video surveillance showed Ray putting it in his pocket. He was suspended pending the outcome of his criminal case, which remains before the courts.

New York City, N.Y.: Two airport screeners at Kennedy International - both women - were arrested and charged with stealing the wallet of a man in December 2005. The accused, screeners Ronniki Ack and Yvette Reynolds, went on a spending spree with a retired firefighter's credit and debit cards and money while still in uniform and were caught on video using the stolen ATM card at banks. Both TSA screeners were charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and official misconduct. They both pleaded guilty to reduced charges in 2006. Ack was sentenced to four months jail.
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