Two Transportation Security Administration employees charged with stealing $40,000 from luggage at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport will lose their jobs, the U.S. agency that oversees aviation security said.
TSA officers Persad Coumar, 44, and Davon Webb, 30, both of New York, are awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court in New York, said Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for the Queens County District Attorney’s office, in an e-mail. They are accused of stealing the money on Jan. 30 from a piece of checked luggage containing $170,000 inside the American Airlines terminal, Ryan said. The charges include conspiracy, grand larceny and possession of stolen property.
“TSA has a zero tolerance policy for theft in the workplace,” the agency said in an e-mailed statement. “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.”
The pair allegedly worked together to take the cash after Coumar x-rayed the bag and saw it inside, the district attorney’s office said in an e-mailed statement. Coumar telephoned Webb, who was working in a baggage belt area of the American terminal, to tell him about the bag. Webb searched the bag and marked it with tape. Coumar then used an identification card to enter the baggage handling area, found the bag and took some of the money inside, according to the statement.
Port Authority police officers found $23,980 at Coumar’s home after $20 had been spent on food, and $16,000 at Webb’s residence, the district attorney’s office said.
Another TSA employee tipped police off about the theft, the district attorney’s office said.
“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,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in the statement. “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.”
From 2008 to 2010, 12 TSA officers lost their jobs due to thefts at security points or from checked baggage, Ann Davis, a TSA spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
The arrests by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police were reported earlier by the New York Post.
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