Quantcast

TSA agents admit to stealing $160,000 from bags at JFK Airport

By David Edwards
Thursday, February 17, 2011 11:18 EDT
google plus icon
TSA-DHS
 
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

Law enforcement authorities said Wednesday that two Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers had been arrested for stealing from bags at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown identified agents Davon Webb, 30 and Persad Coumar, 44, as the suspects. Coumar had been an agent since 2002. Webb was hired in 2004.

The officers are accused of stealing $39,000 from one bag on Jan. 30.

Sources told The New York Post that passenger whose money was stolen was on the way to Argentina.

An investigation began on Jan. 30 after another agent tipped Port Authority police. The money was later found in the agents’ homes.

The two agents worked together to pull off the scheme. Coumar would allegedly use an X-ray to find money in travelers’ bags. Webb would then allegedly mark the bags with tape, according to Brown.

Coumar would later allegedly extract the money in another luggage area.

The two have confessed to stealing as much as $160,000, police said.

The TSA was expected to fire the two men quickly, but had not done so by Wednesday morning.

“We will move swiftly and decisively to end the federal careers of any employee who engages in illegal activity on the job,” TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis told Reuters.

“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.”

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.
 
  • antiM

    so, folks are flying with that amount of money because ______________________________.

  • ProgressiveInNewYork

    want to cut waste? Start with DHS and the TSA

  • enorceht

    laundering money just got easier … why would anyone put that much “cash” in a suitcase ?

  • Ma’at

    That’s not a lot of money and if the passenger complained, he had declared it. This was cash spread over several people. I don’t use banks, and haven’t in forever, and I travel with a fair amount of cash when I go overseas. I just have to declare it is all.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so relieved that our government will prosecute people who stole $160,000.

    Now, if the same government could also prosecute the Wall Street bankers who stole billions or TRILLIONS of dollars from the American People, my faith in the rule of law would be partially restored.

  • Anonymous

    Probably because they are old school. From an era when people didn’t borrow money from banks, instead saved their money for years to buy that house or car. Of course the money was stored in a shoe box, in some hidden part of the house and sometimes, yes, under the mattress.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3T7VECLRJCVK2Z327KVJILQH24 cameron

    So If someone brings a large amount of cash onto a plane….. the TSA should be allowed to divide it up amongst themselves? Even more so to speculate on what the cash was going to be used for….. This is still a free country, contrary to what our government tells us, they can do what they wish with that much cash. Has a gambling problem, wants to lavish in style for a few days, who cares. Taking money from a person with no investigation into why they have it….. goes against everything we wish the country to be.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3T7VECLRJCVK2Z327KVJILQH24 cameron

    Yeah we have seen what programs they are going to cut……. There are only a few within our government that actually want to cut….. but for some reason they are largely ignored by others within this government.

  • antiM

    i seriously don’t know why people would fly with this amount of $.
    so, it’s a serious question.

  • antiM

    it’s weird that people step down for sending shirtless photos online but they don’t step down for stealing large amounts of money or denying government services to taxpaying folks… things are so skewed these days.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    Excellent comment! Now if these 2 TSA agents just happened to be big Congressional campaign “contributors” (in other words if they bought off the Congress) I suspect they would be given a slap on the hand at best.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    It is worse than weird, it is criminal. And is no secret to anyone what is really going on behind the $cenes financially.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    And endless wars! And the military machine!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3T7VECLRJCVK2Z327KVJILQH24 cameron

    Because it is speculative to even suggest what they are going to use it for…. Until they do something wrong with that cash, then you have an issue with it.

  • antiM

    sorry. i didn’t mean it that way, i thought there may be a standard reason.

    there are also stories of folks being pulled over and small town cops confiscating their money stash, even without cause. so there no way to win.

  • Anonymous

    I always travel with $$. What the fuck kind of stupid response is this. The blame the victim mentality in the USA is astounding. What, are you one of these guy’s grandmother or something?

  • antiM

    i don’t travel really and i didn’t know…. just an honest question. i’m not blaming anyone.

  • Anonymous

    This is fucking HYSTERICAL. I mean who thinks these poor dumb, 8.50 an hour azzholes are there to keep you safe? Who believes that?

  • Guest

    there making alot more than $8.50/hour buddy plus benfits and retirement etc etc

  • Anonymous

    Why would you pack money in your suitcase? That is nuts.

  • Anonymous

    Ok sorry I got up on my hind legs here. But why can’t somebody (certain laws about leaving the country with US $ aside) travel with as much money as they want?
    I’m not trying to crack back at ya here when I say, to me this be-speaks a perverse and pervasive ‘blame the victim’ mentality in our society, that most people aren’t even aware they have. Not that the poor bastards working at TSA aren’t victims themsleves in a way I suppose.
    If you would experience the utter bullshit and folly that goes on when one must get on a plane (I wish I had time to tell you about just last week and my laptop, ridiculous) … I mean, it’s a charade and this proves it. I mean if some, AlCIAda wanted to get by these TSA guys we know how much it would cost.

  • Anonymous

    How much do they make? I’m not trying to riposte here, I would like to know more. I just tried to check around and couldn’t find out. I also thought that this organization was privately held. Or at least the managment, yes? Anyone know where I can find out more. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    YES!!!! Excellent response.

  • Anonymous

    When passenger groping just is not “satisfying” enough, TSA’ “finest” go for a full “pat down” of the cargo luggage.

  • Anonymous

    You may not be ‘blaming’ anyone, but your grammar structure made it sound like you were. I travel thousands of miles every year and have pockets full of cash — in three or four different countries currencies. And almost always NEVER go to the USA. And I am an American, however I left that country to live abroad in 1999 and have enjoyed every day outside of the states.

  • Anonymous

    Why do you think we are not supposed to lock our suitcases anymore? It is just for the convenience of those crooks!
    (Besides, nowadays, most suitcases are just closed with a zipper, and youtube video shows how to open a zipper and re-seal it.

  • Anonymous

    ‘Officially’ you are not allowed to take more than $10,000 out of the country.
    Besides, the person was flying to Argentina – probably had saved all his/her $$$ and wanted to buy a house down there, but had no bank account, or did not know how to wire $$$ internationally.

  • Anonymous

    See my answer above…

  • Anonymous

    OMG..what ever you do make sure TSA workers can’t join a Union….! Governor Walker has it under control in Wisconsin..kill off the Unions, starve the old people, middle-class and the poor, cut education, put children to work in factories and private prisons via right-wing activist Judges, and give the money you save in tax breaks to the wealthy, so they will keep him in office and he can become a REAL Dictator….

  • Anonymous

    Sure as hell wouldn’t put my large amount of money or jewelry in a suitcase I was going to check…but then I don’t ever watch FOX or listen to Limbaugh either…

  • Anonymous

    This has actually been done ‘legally’. I remember reading last year about some gardener or whatnot who had saved up all his money all his life, and then wanted to retire and buy a house in his native Mexico. TSA found the cash, the cops came and confiscated it, and he did not get it back, even though he could prove it was not drug money.
    Seems there is some murky law somewhere that says that confiscated items need not be returned. :/

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HGHFALGGZ2RYXLJIKA6MG7BVMI kathleen

    It doesnt matter how much money travelers carry. IT’S THEIR MONEY. TSA agents who steal it should go immediately to jail and the airlines sued. Travelers are forced to have their belongings searched by TSA thugs and thieves. It is disgusting, the whole Big Brother scene is disgusting. So long as TSA hires thieves and thugs and perverts, all searches of citizens should cease.

  • Anonymous

    in 2008, i flew out to see mom in boise, idaho. i was rather surprised i wasn’t on the no-fly list on which are some 400,000 other american dissidents (over a million when added to the ‘potential terrorist list’…) but i wasn’t…

    but i WAS on somebody’s list… i was denied boarding two jets as MY DRIVER’S LICENSE WAS EXPIRED! when i joked that “my license may have expired; but i haven’t” and they didn’t even smile…

    when i came through TSA security, this little creep took out a gold gucci nail clipper and leering, put it into his shirt pocket while telling me “this is a weapon!’ that clipper was given to me long ago by a lady now deceased and it had great sentimental value for me. then, when la guardia finally allows me to board after hours of waiting… i find that that goon also stole my sandwich, cashews and a gold picture frame which contained a photo of mom and my me from childhood, a priceless and irreplaceable item.

    then i get to denver and have to walk a mile for a camel… returning to my seat, find my luggage gone. pronto i’m hauled off for a strip search. when i’m about to miss my flight, they begrudgingly give me back my suitcase all disheveled.

    coming back, i was the only one taken off and searched in boise out of about 40 boarding. leaving denver, again taken away for strip search.

    i used to love flying… still thrills me to see the world from up there. but the thrill is gone. i’d take a train over a plane whenever i could afford the time. love trains, too. more comfy and way better food… something romantic about the rails and you can sneak a smoke or a joint between cars without being carted off to gitmo!

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    Being stupid is not a crime I guess.

  • Anonymous

    Well, it’s their business…right? Or do you tell everybody your own business?

    P.S. Have you ever even seen more than $1,000 at one time?

  • Anonymous

    Why is it a “serious question?” There are no laws against doing so…and why would it be of any concern to you?

  • Anonymous

    It appears that more people here are concerned with somebody carrying large amount of cash than it being stolen.

    What business it of yours why someone would carry cash? It’s not against the law.

  • antiM

    i seriously don’t see why i’m getting flamed here.
    it was a just a neutral question.

  • David R Velasquez

    That’s not really the point.
    The point is that the TSA claims the right to brutalize, humiliate and rob you.

  • AnzaSummer

    Yup. I feel safer now.

  • Ron1127

    Dumb bastard, didn’t he know better than to try and pass a mattress through the TSA? Like they haven’t seen that one before!

  • Anonymous

    “so, folks are flying with that amount of money because ______________________________. ” Because they want to buy you a question mark? Because it is none of your damn business and does not justify the theft by authorities? But nice try at diversion ….no, no it wasn’t, it was weak.

  • DesertSun59

    I’ve talked with enough people about stolen items from their luggage to know that this isn’t just some random TSA agent doing it.

    It’s systematic.

  • antiM

    very true. i agree that it is obvious, sadly.
    so, i asked the other question that i was curious about.

  • Anonymous

    “So If someone brings a large amount of cash onto a plane….. the TSA should be allowed to divide it up amongst themselves?” Well yeah, ya hadn’t heard? Isn’t it amazing/disgusting how far American values of privacy have fallen?

    Truthfully…a former business partner and office manager was discovered embezzling and we made her resign and sign an agreement to repay the amount. (She didn’t repay, but that is different subject.)

    About 6 months later…I hear someone flying out of our small international airport saw her…working…as TSA inspecting bags. Later, I confirmed it as true when she was going through bags while I was boarding a flight. And…I later got a letter from some corporation asking for her references…sent to a phony address she gave them for us…..no genius her: it was an island…they finally delivered it to us. She gave the correct name and island location…just wrong village. Still…it took the US Postal service 9 months from post date to figure out our location: 4 miles and three turns from them.

    So yeah….we all are much safer now…I’m feeling it for sure…aren’t you brother?

  • Anonymous

    “i seriously don’t know why people would fly with this amount of $.
    so, it’s a serious question.”

    The only question is why you think it is any of your f#cking business why they have money in their bags. Seriously.

  • David R Velasquez

    Could be any number of business reasons for carrying that much…haha, some of them not all that legal. But to tell the truth, I wouldn’t transport that much money even I had it. A fellow band member once lost a camcorder (probably to baggage handlers) Anything can happen in an airport.

  • David R Velasquez

    And then the GOP are proposing to privatize the TSA… as if private mercs are so much more honest and ‘transparent’ in their behavior.

  • http://skulzstudios.com/ don nash

    The TSA goons stole $20 bucks and pack of Camels from my Mary’s daughter at Portland airport in Oregon. So I reported it to TSA and never heard back word one.
    Just one more outrage in a continuing string of outrages we lovingly know as these United States of Amerika.

  • Jakrabt

    Lot’s of blue collar workers cash their paychecks and ‘bank’ out of their wallets all the time. Perhaps it is because the banks are so trustworthy these days? Guess I just don’t find it that unusual. I bank through an institution for convenience, but some folks can’t qualify for a checking account and have to use cash accounting.

  • Anonymous

    so I can understand your need to travel with money, but you are putting it in a suitcase that you don’t have contact with for hours and that many people handle. I just don’t get it. Get a money belt, put it into other currency. I’m not blaming the victim, I just think that there are too many problems with putting it in your suitcase.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Duh…remember when the battle was on to make sure that, despite being employees under federal oversight and members of a federal agency, there would be no unionization allowed and no contractual requirements placed on TSA that might result in being forced to pay people a reasonable wage?

    This is what you get when your security staff guarding the nation is the equivalent of burger flippers. Security professionals cost money…well trained well paid people can be trusted…or at least trusted a lot more than underpaid, lowrent scumbags who resent their shit job shortly after getting it.

    Pay crap, get crap. Just ask the Chinese and their lead toys, melamine milk and plastic rice. F*ck this hypercapitalist BS and cheapskate spiral of downward doom. Its time to ask ourselves…do we really want, as a country, to be a high class, top flight, admired and respected people…

    …or do we really want to be the lowest rent, Dollar General, generic brand crapfest forever?

    If we want better people, better living, better products and a better future…part of its starts with actually paying the price to get that…not pussing out and trying to underpay everyone involved while overcharging for a product made with the shittiest possible components. That way lies every tinpot, banana plantation shithole the world has ever seen.

  • Anonymous

    “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.”

    Who the fuck is kidding who here? I didn’t see any mention of prosecuting those two assholes, just that they’d be fired, but no firing action has taken place. WHY NOT!

  • Anonymous

    Thieves who take whatever they can find and get away with. Perverts who can grope us. And willing to make less than ten bucks an hour to just to throw their weight around while performing both of these “official government-sanctioned duties” to “combat terrorism.” Fuck it. I’m going to have to take the train to visit family from now on. California to New Jersey is a hell of a long way and will cost plenty no doubt — but it’s still got to be better than being rudely barked at, intimidated, ripped off, and sexually assaulted by a bunch of TSA assclowns.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Uh, huh. This is not the first of these reports I see on the subject. What else can be expected when you put low life thugs in these quasi-positions of powers and you tempt them with boobs and booty?

    Now, this is what I call raped and robed. A one-stop tax-payer funded shop.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Not the planet. The US. The US is not the planet. There are intelligent people in other countries.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Yet.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    I’m surprised they didn’t offer you to mail the item(s) to yourself from a nearby, strategically placed mail box which only charges like $10 for mailing a cotton swab. See, a few have figured out a way to profit from the misery of the many. And I’ve been singled out for that second search too. Luckily, the bag they picked to search was full of clothes which I wore for over a week while visiting my family in Cuba and hadn’t been washed. ha ha! You should have seen their faces when they opened it up. Poof! I’m surprised they didn’t arrest me for “terrorism by fowl odor”

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Yep. You got it. Your suitcase has to be open for business and to make the pillage easier. Gawd forbid they are inconvenienced when riffling and/or stealing your stuff.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    They haven’t been privatized yet but it’s in the works. And here you go for that salary:

    http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=United_States_Transportation_Security_Administration_%28TSA%29/Hourly_Rate

  • Anonymous

    This article proves me right – I’ve always said that all this TSA nonsense is nothing but a license for them to steal our stuff. Don’t tell me they don’t have a free for all at the end of the day with all the stuff they steal from people just trying to get a ride somewhere.

  • Anonymous

    Whatever the reason it’s not our business.

  • Anonymous

    good thing i had my pot&coke finely ground in cellophane in a corner
    of my cotton orange coat, eh? fcuknazis

  • http://twitter.com/MrEthiopian ed smith

    It does not matter, the story states the the man who had the money stolen was on his way to Argentina, you can NOT travel out out of USA with any more than $10,000 after that you need to declare what, why and a million other things.

    So yes asking why a person would travel internationally with $39,000 is a valid question.

  • http://twitter.com/MrEthiopian ed smith

    Wrong, read above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Bailey/1083393808 Peter Bailey

    Thieves in high place. Sounds like a bank.

  • Anonymous

    Totally beside the point. And if these two managed to steal 160000 a lot of peolple must be traveling with dough.

  • Anonymous

    Most of these so-called TSA agents were grocery store clerks 6 months ago… or selling crack on the corner…

  • Guest

    a voice in the wildernenes!!!

  • Guest

    excuse me SIR i never sold crack on a street corner,, I sold only in my penthouse after leaving my job at the 7-11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BRFWNCTTN4GI6JTDUNV7AZ3WWM annalisa

    Maybe they want to put a down payment on a house in Argentina…and don’t want to pay the wire transfer fee. Or, the person selling the house wants cash. There are plenty of possibilities, not all of them involve nefarious activities.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BRFWNCTTN4GI6JTDUNV7AZ3WWM annalisa

    You should have just let them try it…or maybe you were trying to be kind to your dog?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BRFWNCTTN4GI6JTDUNV7AZ3WWM annalisa

    Next time write their name down and call the police.

  • Anonymous

    A number of TSA employees violate federal search laws on a daily basis and nothing is said. Probable cause no longer applies.

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    Because it’s their right and none of our business.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/42THFKXIPMJHQBIH6OPI4RVIDY Thebes

    The TSA, proving once again that absolute security is impossible.

  • Guest

    Money was stolen by insiders with special powers and access?

    Gee, who could imagine such a thing?

    Must have been the first time in history.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for that. I mean they ain’t getting rich but for that kind of money they should be able to get people that are a bit more civil and capable than some of the semi-literate duscehbags I’ve had to deal with.

  • Anonymous

    Not only that I do not need some bank, or anybody else for that matter, knowing where I spend my money or how much I spend. To me what is unfathomable is that people put everything they do on some fucking card so that anybody, anytime can just know what your doing. And I AM NOT talking about anything illegal. I just do not like forntin’ my shit to anybody, especially some fucking computer.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Honesty and decency should be expected of any job, no matter what the salary. However, with these goons it’s double jeopardy. We pay their salary and then, have to take their abuse too.

Google+