JP Morgan Chase Employees Indicted For Allegedly Stealing


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 28, 2015

 

JP Morgan Chase Employees Indicted For Allegedly Stealing
$400,000 from Elderly Victims’ Bank Accounts

Personal Bankers and Two Cohorts Allegedly Used Fake Powers of Attorney, ATM Cards

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Social Security Administration Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan, today announced that two personal bankers employed by J.P. Morgan Chase and two other defendants have been arraigned on an indictment in which they are charged with conspiracy and other charges for allegedly stealing approximately $400,000 from the bank accounts of 15 senior citizens and deceased account holders, who were Chase customers.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants, including two who served as personal bankers, are charged with pilfering the accounts of elderly customers. They will all now be held accountable for their shameful scheme to defraud.”

Commissioner Bratton said, “As alleged, these individuals preyed upon the elderly and deceased. Not only did they raid their victims’ savings, they also failed to conceal their deceitful tracks. I commend the investigators and prosecutors involved in this case, whose work ended this fraudulent scheme and resulted in these arrests.”

Special Agent in Charge Ryan said, “That these individuals used their position in the banking industry to steal Social Security funds is an offense against all taxpayers who contribute to Social Security and spend a lifetime working to earn these benefits. I commend our partner in this investigation, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, for their hard work. I encourage the public to report suspected Social Security fraud to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at http://oig.ssa.gov/report or (800) 269-0271.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Jonathan Francis, 27, of 75 Martense Street in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Dion Allison, 30, of 146 LaRose Circle, Marietta, Georgia. They were both employed as personal bankers at J.P. Morgan Chase’s Restoration Plaza branch at 1380 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Also charged are Kery Phillips, 40, of 135 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, and Gregory Desrameaux, 24, of 184 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, who were not employed by Chase.

All of the defendants are named in a four-count indictment in which they are charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, second- and third-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records. Allison was arrested today and arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Mullen. He was ordered held on bail of $25,000 bond or $15,000 cash and to return to court on February 10, 2016. Francis and Desrameaux were arraigned earlier this month before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Bail was set at $25,000 bond or $15,000 cash for Francis and Desrameaux was released without bail. They were also ordered to return to court on February 10, 2016. Phillips is still being sought by police. The defendants each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between August 2012 and October 2013, the defendants Francis and Allison, using their authority as Personal Bankers to access accounts electronically, searched Chase databases for accounts that belonged to elderly Chase clients, had high balances and were dormant, except for regular direct deposits from the Social Security Administration. Some of these account holders were deceased.

Francis and Allison allegedly identified 15 such accounts and without permission or authority from either Chase or the account holders withdrew money from those accounts.

Phillips and Desrameaux allegedly conspired with Francis and Allison to steal money from the accounts. Specifically, Francis and Allison issued Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards for the defrauded accounts and the defendants and others used the ATM cards to systematically withdraw money. The defendants allegedly made withdrawals of between $200 and $2,000 (the maximum ATM withdrawal permitted each day) at regular intervals and alternated between several Chase branch ATMs. The defendants used ATM cards for more than one compromised account at the same ATM, and they made withdrawals from each account within seconds.

For example, during April 2013, the defendants allegedly made 42 withdrawals totaling $39,800 from four different victim accounts at four different Chase ATM locations in Brooklyn. The defendants allegedly made a total of 355 ATM withdrawals totaling nearly $298,000 from the 15 compromised accounts during the course of the investigation.

Furthermore, it is alleged, the defendants additionally conspired to steal money from Chase accounts by submitting false and fraudulent Durable Power of Attorney documents, which gave them control of the accounts. The defendants allegedly used the documents to withdraw amounts of up to $9,500 from teller stations. They allegedly made a total of 21 withdrawals in this manner, taking approximately $100,000 from four different accounts.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Detective Adrienne Jones of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Squad, under the supervision of Sergeant Dominick Longo and Captain Dawit Fikru and Special Agent Angel Rodriguez, of the Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration, under the supervision of Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Grasso.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Adam Zion of the District Attorney’s Cybercrimes Unit, of the Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Dana Roth, Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Nine Defendants Charged With Operating Heroin Trafficking Ring


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 21, 2015

 

Nine Defendants Charged With Operating Heroin Trafficking Ring
In Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island

Conducted Transactions at Several Exits along the Long Island Expressway;
Tens of Thousands of Dollars, Over a Pound of Narcotics and Six Guns Recovered

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Joseph D’Amico, Superintendent of the New York State Police, today announced that nine defendants have been variously charged in a 281-count indictment with conspiracy, sale and possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a weapon for operating a lucrative heroin distribution ring in Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

District Attorney Thompson said, “There’s a growing heroin epidemic spreading throughout our city and country that’s destroying lives and families. This is the second heroin distribution operation that we dismantled in recent months and we intend to continue to do our part to save lives by taking down anyone who deals heroin in Brooklyn.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said, “Chaaibi used legitimate business marketing for illegitimate drug sales. By branding his cut of heroin “Two-Way”, he attracted and retained customers; some who drove far distances in order to purchase his product in bulk for resale on the street. Last week, the CDC released data reporting that in 2014 there were a record number of overdoses, over 47,000 overdose deaths mostly due to opioid pain relievers and heroin. This case is just one of many that exemplify drug law enforcement’s efforts to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations, like the Chaaibi organization, responsible for fueling heroin addiction and overdose deaths.”

New York State Police Superintendent D’Amico said, “I commend the efforts of our members and our law enforcement partners who were able to bring these criminals to justice and keep dangerous drugs off our streets. A drug like heroin destroys communities and puts lives at risk. We will continue to work with our partners to bring these criminals to justice and make sure they get the message that this will not be tolerated in our state.”

The District Attorney said that the investigation was conducted using electronic, video and physical surveillance, and that the indictment charges that between September 2014 and this month the defendants conspired to possess and sell heroin in Brooklyn, Queens and across Long Island. The ring allegedly sold a single “brand” of heroin, called “TWO WAY,” and used custom-made stickers to identify it on the glassines it distributed.

District Attorney Thompson identified the ringleader as Mohamed Chaaibi, 27, of Glendale, Queens. It is alleged that he supplied the heroin and coordinated all the transactions, in Brooklyn and elsewhere, by taking calls from buyers and sending couriers to prearranged locations where sales were conducted.

Miguel Alcaide, 30, of Brownsville, Brooklyn, Dixon Mercado, 42, and Brandon Alvarez, 20, both of Ridgewood, Queens, allegedly acted as runners or couriers who supplied heroin to other named defendants who then re-sold it to their own customers. Kimberly Wong, 32, of Ridgewood, Queens, is a realtor who allegedly helped Chaaibi with proceeds of narcotic sales, assisted him in finding cheap properties for rent and kept a stash of heroin in her residence to use when his runners ran low. Marius Kaczmarczyk, 39, of Maspeth, Queens is allegedly a heroin user who would test the product for Chaaibi and report back his findings.

The defendants were arraigned last week and today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Shillingford. They are variously charged in a 281-count indictment with second-degree conspiracy, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, third-, fourth- and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Chaaibi is additionally charged with operating as a major trafficker. The defendants face a maximum sentence of up to life in prison if convicted of the top count with which they are charged. Several additional defendants are being sought.

It is alleged that many of the transactions were conducted in parking lots near exits along the Long Island Expressway. Those included gas stations and a Dunkin’ Donuts shop at Exit 19, gas stations at Exit 25, a Dunkin’ Donuts, CVS pharmacy and gas stations at Exit 37 and a gas station at Exit 56. Other sale locations included street corners in Bushwick, Bay Ridge, Crown Heights and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Cell phone conversations that were intercepted in the course of the investigation showed that the defendants repeatedly discussed the quality of their product, customers’ assessment of its potency and its effectiveness when consumed by snorting versus shooting with a needle.

Finally, a search warrant that was executed at Chaaibi’s residence recovered a loaded .380 firearm and drug paraphernalia with heroin residue. Another search warrant executed at a stash house used by the trafficking ring recovered approximately 13 ounces of uncut heroin, about 2,000 glassines of heroin marked with the “TWO WAY” brand, drug paraphernalia and over 20 cell phones. A total of six guns were recovered during the course of the investigation.

The case was investigated by the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF), which is comprised of DEA Special Agents, NYPD Detectives and New York State Police Investigators.

Assistant District Attorneys Maria Schiavone, Gillian DiPietro and Maria Park of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau are prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Jonathan R. Sennett and Tara Lenich, Deputy Bureau Chiefs, and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

DEFENDANT ADDENDUM:

1. Mohamed Chaaibi (Mo), 27, of 79-62 68th Avenue, Queens.
2. Miguel Alcaide (Chippy), 30, of 251 Osborn Street, Brooklyn.
3. Dixon Mercado (Dickie), 42, of 1864 Stockholm Street, Queens.
4. Kimberly Wong, 32, of 2026 Harmon Street, Queens.
5. Brandon Alvarez, 20, of 2026 Harman Street, Queens.
6. Carlos Rodriguez (DJ Cel), 33, of 99 Jamaica Avenue, Medford, Suffolk County.
7. Mariusz Kaczmarczyk (Mashud), 39, of 60-04 56th Drive, Queens.
8. Christina Picciano, 34, of 106 Webster Avenue, Lake Ronkonkoma, Suffolk County.
9. Andres Fernandez (Dre), 29, of 92-01 Jamaica Avenue, Queens.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Staten Island Contractor Indicted For Bribery


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, October 26, 2015

 

Staten Island Contractor Indicted For Bribery

Faces Up to Seven Years in Prison if Convicted

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that the owner of a Staten Island construction company who was awarded a nearly $2.5 million contract with the School Construction Authority has been indicted for allegedly offering $3,500 in bribes to expedite payments for the work.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This indictment shows our commitment to root out and prosecute public corruption in Brooklyn. It also serves to put construction companies awarded city contracts on notice that we will fully investigate and prosecute any acts of bribery.”

Commissioner Peters said, “This charged criminal conduct is corruption at its most fundamental. But in this case, an honest employee derailed the scheme and reported the wrongdoing to the Inspector General. I commend the employee whose actions are a testament to the power of integrity, and I caution any individual who thinks bribery is a way to circumvent the rules.”

The defendant, Abdulkader Kassem Elchoum, 55, of Staten Island, was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with six counts of third-degree bribery. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on December 12, 2015. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, in or about April 2014, the School Construction Authority sought bids for a new corridor, a fire alarm upgrade, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at Public School 138K in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The defendant, who owns AMA Construction/NY, Inc., submitted the lowest bid of $2.478 million and was awarded the contract.

The SCA, according to the indictment, generally pays its construction contractors in installments, depending on the nature and amount of work completed. In or about early June 2015, the defendant expected a payment in the amount of approximately $163,000. On June 3, 2015, the defendant allegedly offered an SCA project officer, who was assigned to monitor the project, a bribe of $2,000 to expedite the $163,000 payment. The project officer had previously reported an improper overture and the SCA’s Inspector General’s office immediately followed up.

Furthermore, according to the indictment, between June 8, 2015 and August 10, 2015, on five separate occasions, the defendant delivered a total of approximately $3,500 in cash to the project officer, with the understanding that he would use his influence to expedite payments to AMA and limit SCA scrutiny of AMA’s work.

The investigation was conducted by SCA Inspector General Investigators William J. O’Brien and Jose Romero, under the supervision of Deputy Counsel Jason S. Herman, Assistant Inspector General John Gray, and the overall supervision of Inspector General Maria Mostajo. The Inspector General for SCA reports to DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Adam S. Libove of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michael Spanakos, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty to Beating 3-Year-Old Stepdaughter to Death


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, October 23, 2015

 

Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty to Beating 3-Year-Old Stepdaughter to Death

Defendant to be Sentenced to 15 Years to Life in Prison

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Bushwick man pleaded guilty to the 2014 murder of his 3-year-old stepdaughter, Jeida Torres, who was fatally beaten, and to the assault of his 5-year-old stepson, Andrew Torres. The defendant is expected to be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in exchange for his guilty plea.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Beating a helpless and innocent child to death is a heinous and unforgivable crime. This defendant deserves to spend many years in prison and today’s outcome ensures that he will, while sparing the victim’s loved ones the ordeal of a painful trial.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kelsey Smith, 21, of 38 Cooper Street, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The defendant pleaded guilty today to the top counts of second-degree murder and second-degree assault before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog. The judge set sentencing for November 6, 2015 and indicated he will sentence the defendant to 15 years to life in prison. The defendant waived his right to appeal as part of the plea.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, on October 18, 2014, at approximately 3:50 p.m., at 38 Cooper Street, which is a homeless shelter in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, the defendant called his wife, Kimberly Torres, who is the mother of Jeida and Andrew, and told her that he “[messed] up” and hit Jeida and that Jeida was not breathing. Kimberly Torres then called the police, who went to the shelter and found Jeida Torres unresponsive.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, Jeida Torres was taken to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and was pronounced dead. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma. Andrew Torres, who was punched by Smith, was treated and released.

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Brooklyn Man Indicted For Sexually Assaulting Teenager While Pretending To Be Police Officer


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 7, 2014

Brooklyn Man Indicted For Sexually Assaulting Teenager
While Pretending To Be Police Officer

Defendant Faces Up To 25 Years To Life In Prison If Convicted

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 47-year-old Brooklyn man has been arraigned on an eight-count indictment in which he is charged with forcing an 18-year-old woman to engage in sex acts and trying to rape her in Bushwick last October while claiming to be a police officer.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant is accused of impersonating a police officer to commit a cowardly and deplorable crime against an innocent young woman. He will now be held accountable for his actions.”

The District Attorney said that the defendant, Walter Barnes, 47, of 2015 East 59th Street, Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn, was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Patricia Williams on an eight-count indictment in which he is charged with two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree attempted rape, two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of first-degree criminal impersonation. His bail was continued at $200,000 bond or $250,000 cash and he was ordered to return to court on February 27, 2015. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on October 2, 2014, at approximately 6:30 a.m., in the vicinity of Aberdeen Street and Bushwick Avenue, the defendant, who was driving a car, allegedly flagged down an 18-year-old woman who was walking to a store and offered her a ride. Once the woman was inside of his car, the defendant allegedly identified himself as a New York City police officer and threatened to arrest her unless she performed a sex act on him.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant then allegedly drove the victim to another location and again forced her to perform a sex act. The victim allegedly tried to get out of the car, but the doors were locked; the defendant then allegedly tried to rape her but she was able to grab the car keys from the ignition and escape.
The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Detectives assigned to the Police Impersonation Unit, a division of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Lisa Nugent of the District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Coleen Balbert, Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Schumer, Thompson Demand TSA Require All Airports Develop Comprehensive Screening Process For All Employees

SCHUMER: DA THOMPSON’S RECENT BUST OF ATLANTA-NY GUN SMUGGLING RING EXPOSES GAPING & DANGEROUS LOOPHOLE IN NEW YORK – AND NATIONAL AIRPORT SECURITY, ALLOWING ERRANT AIRLINE EMPLOYEES TO SMUGGLE GUNS, DRUGS & EXPLOSIVES ONTO PLANES – AMAZINGLY, MOST EMPLOYEES ARE EXEMPT FROM GOING THROUGH METAL DETECTORS;

Lack of Physical Security Checks Allowed Gun Running Ring to Board Nearly 20 Flights Undetected In 2014 Alone, Smuggling Over 150 Firearms Straight to NY Streets – Schumer, Thompson Call For Action to Protect Against Potential Acts of Terrorism, Future Crime

While Pilots & Flight Crew Must Pass Through Metal Detectors Each Day, Employees Who Clean & Repair Planes, Load Luggage & Work In Terminals Past Security Check Points Do Not; Schumer, Thompson Say TSA Must Require Airports to Upgrade Unique Airport Security Plans to Include Physical Screening– Astoundingly, this is Not Currently a Requirement

Schumer: Millions of Gov’t Employees in Courthouses, the Pentagon & Federal Offices Pass Through Metal Detectors Each Day – Errant Airport Employees With the Potential to Perpetrate Acts of Terror on Airplanes Should Be Physically Screened As Well

In the wake of D.A. Ken Thompson’s exposure of a highly disturbing gun running scheme, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to immediately implement a national requirement that all airports physically screen airline and airport employees each day before they enter secured areas of airports. Currently, pilots and flight crew pass through metal detectors, but amazingly, most employees that repair and clean planes, load luggage, and work in the terminal post-security checkpoints are exempt from this physically screening. Schumer and Thompson said this gaping and dangerous loophole in airport security plans allowed an expansive gun running scheme to smuggle 153 firearms into New York, when a former Delta Airlines employee carried backpacks and carry-on baggage full of guns and ammunition on nearly twenty commercial flights in 2014 from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to New York. Four men have been charged by Thompson for allegedly conspiring to sell these firearms, destined for the streets of Brooklyn. After Thompson notified federal authorities, a fifth man was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia with a firearms trafficking offense and violating airport security requirements. Schumer said that like airplane passengers, flight crews and millions of private and government employees in courthouses and elsewhere, all commercial airport employees should be physically screened before entering secure areas, as a requirement of each airport’s unique Airport Security Plan (ASP). While Schumer made clear that while the vast majority of airline employees are honest, upstanding citizens, it takes one person to exploit the system and smuggle guns, or worse, explosives onto a plane and cause huge damage.

“When guns, drugs, and even explosives are as easy to carry on board a plane as a neck pillow, then we have to seriously – and immediately – overhaul our airport security practices,” said Senator Schumer. “In this day and age of terrorism, rampant drug dealing and gun smuggling, we just can’t be too careful. DA Thompson’s groundbreaking investigation underscores that clearly, the TSA should require all airline employees to be physically screened each day before entering secure airport areas. The vast majority of airline employees are good, hard-working people, however, in order to limit the chance of weapons and other dangerous contraband from making it into our overhead compartments, all airline employees should pass through metal detectors.”

“The ease by which airport employees are able to smuggle weapons and other contraband onto our commercial airliners is troubling and warrants immediate scrutiny and inspection,” said District Attorney Thompson. “Our investigation, in cooperation with the NYPD and our federal law enforcement partners, identified gaping holes in our nation’s airport security. In this age of terrorism, basic protections such as screening airport employees, is critical to the safety of our country. Moreover, these loaded weapons were intended for the streets of New York where they could have been used to kill our residents or police officers. The majority of airport personnel are good, hardworking employees but there are bad apples in every workplace. By screening everyone – not just passengers and flight crews – TSA will be able to identify and remove offending employees before they have the opportunity to spoil the whole apple cart.”

According to DA Thompson’s groundbreaking investigation, defendant Mark Henry made 17 trips between New York airports and Atlanta, Georgia between May 8, 2014 and December 10, 2014. Mark Henry worked as a Delta ramp agent between 2007 and 2010 so he was aware of weaknesses in the system. He would pass weapons to Eugene Harvey, who was working as a Delta ramp agent, outside of the airport. Mark Henry then proceeded through security to the boarding areas. Eugene Harvey was not required to go through security at Hartsdale’s Atlanta airport, so he simply took the bags of weapons through the employee entrances and into the secure areas of the airport. Once Mark Henry cleared security, Eugene Harvey would go inside the airport and allegedly give him back the guns in exchange for cash.

Schumer explained that each airport has a unique Airport Security Plan (ASP), which is developed in conjunction with the TSA to fit that specific facility’s layout, size, number of entrances, number of employees and other unique factors. Nationwide, there are very few, if any, airports that require airport employees, like those working in post-security terminals at gates, on the tarmac and ramps and at vendors, to pass through metal detectors before work each day. Schumer explained that astoundingly, in the recent bust by DA Thompson, it seems the two defendants did not break a single airport rule in terms of airport screening. Atlanta’s airport’s ASP did not require physical screening of employees before entering secured areas, which demonstrates a need for serious security overhauls nationwide. At New York area airports, employees are physically screened in some cases but not in every instance – the rules vary by employee and terminal.

According to DA Thompson’s groundbreaking investigation, defendant Mark Henry made 17 trips between New York airports and Atlanta, Georgia between May 8, 2014 and December 10, 2014. Mark Henry worked as a Delta ramp agent between 2007 and 2010 so he was aware of weaknesses in the system. He would pass weapons to Eugene Harvey, who was working as a Delta ramp agent, outside of the airport. Mark Henry then proceeded through security to the boarding areas. Eugene Harvey was not required to go through security at Hartsdale’s Atlanta airport, so he simply took the bags of weapons through the employee entrances and into the secure areas of the airport. Once Mark Henry cleared security, Eugene Harvey would go inside the airport and allegedly give him back the guns in exchange for cash.
Schumer explained that each airport has a unique Airport Security Plan (ASP), which is developed in conjunction with the TSA to fit that specific facility’s layout, size, number of entrances, number of employees and other unique factors. Nationwide, there are very few, if any, airports that require airport employees, like those working in post-security terminals at gates, on the tarmac and ramps and at vendors, to pass through metal detectors before work each day. Schumer explained that astoundingly, in the recent bust by DA Thompson, it seems the two defendants did not break a single airport rule in terms of airport screening. Atlanta’s airport’s ASP did not require physical screening of employees before entering secured areas, which demonstrates a need for serious security overhauls nationwide. At New York area airports, employees are physically screened in some cases but not in every instance – the rules vary by employee and terminal.

Ironically, the TSA does require that flight crew and pilots be screened, and Schumer and Thompson said that there is no reason that other employees aren’t physically screened as well. Schumer and Thompson did highlight the important fact that the TSA does currently require an employee’s background to be screened before they are hired, and the TSA continues to check whether those employees are added to the terrorist watch list daily. But, the lawmakers noted that given the recent arrests, these security steps are insufficient on their own.

Schumer today said that the TSA must implement a national requirement that all airline employees be physically screened as part of an airport’s Airport Security Plan. Schumer today said that each airport can determine the most cost-effective and efficient ways to screen each employee, whether it be at existing employee screening lines for flight crew, or by placing new metal detectors at other employee entrances. Regardless of the method, anyone entering the secure airport areas should be screened, whether they are an employee or a passenger, Schumer and Thompson said.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to TSA Director Pistole appears below:


 

Dear Director Pistole,

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep our nation and the traveling public safe. I’m sure you were as alarmed as I was to hear the news, following a case brought by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, that an airline worker smuggled dangerous, sometimes loaded, weapons and ammunition through the Atlanta airport and onto planes destined for New York City.

The investigation by DA Thompson has determined that this gun-smuggling ring operated without impediment for almost six months. Fundamental to their scheme was the lack of airline employee physical screening that allowed an airline employee to carry numerous lethal weapons into the theoretically secure passenger boarding area, where they were handed off to a passenger who brought them aboard a plane as carry-on luggage. This lack of physical screening of employees is not limited to Atlanta; in fact, once most employees submit to background checks and security threat assessments, they are cleared for access to secure areas in airports across the country. One can easily imagine terrorists employing similar techniques to the Atlanta criminals, in order to get loaded weapons onto planes, and this is simply an unacceptable risk. The security breaches that occurred at Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta National Airport are a frightening wake-up call that must be heeded with all due speed. Thankfully, this employee and his co-conspirators have been arrested, but this incident has exposed a gaping loophole in airport security that must be promptly addressed and eliminated. As head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), I ask that you implement a national requirement that airline employees go through physical screening each and every time they enter the secure areas of an airport.

Each and every airport nationwide should be required to develop a comprehensive physical screening procedure for employees as soon as possible. Though I realize this may seem to be a burden to some, we know well from prior tragedies that
security is of paramount importance. The 9-11 attacks on New York City and other parts of the country were tragic examples of what can happen when security breaches occur in airports, and we must do everything in our power to prevent similar tragedies. Under your leadership, the TSA has done an admirable job of screening all the passengers on airlines, providing background screening of employees at airports, and developing physical security plans at every airport. DA Thompson’s case has revealed that we must do a little bit more: everyone entering an airport should be subject to physical screening, regardless of whether they are a passenger or employee.

Thank you, and I look forward to working with you on this important issue.