Two JFK Airport employees have been charged with stealing electronics from a piece of checked luggage during an integrity test conducted last week by the federal Transportation Security Administration and Delta Air Lines.
Brian Burton, 27, of Queens and Antwon Simmons, 26, of Brooklyn face charges of fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny and second-degree falsifying business records in connection with the theft of a laptop and cell phone from a piece of luggage planted by investigators during a probe into thefts from checked bags. If convicted, they each face up to four years in prison.
According to the charges, a “seeded” suitcase containing two cell phones, a laptop computer and an iPod was included as baggage for a Delta Airlines flight to Miami on July 7. It is alleged that when the suitcase cleared the checked baggage room, a laptop and T-Mobile Sidekick phone were missing from the bag and that the luggage tags had been switched – indicating a different passenger’s name and a destination of Los Angeles – to conceal the theft. A review of surveillance footage from the screening area showed Burton, a TSA officer, inspecting the bag with Simmons, a baggage handler, in the room.
“When air travelers check their luggage with an airline, there is an implicit trust that their bags and their contents will meet them at their destination,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “In this case, the defendants are accused of betraying that trust and, in the process, of tarnishing the reputation of their employers and other baggage handlers who faithfully carry out their responsibilities each day.”
The investigation was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, TSA and Delta Airlines, which released the following statement:
“Delta takes the security of luggage that we transport on behalf of our customers very seriously. We applaud the work of the law enforcement partners who worked closely with us in this investigation to ensure that the airport contractors and security staff suspected of luggage theft were caught and apprehended. Delta does not tolerate this kind of activity and has aggressive security programs in place to stop luggage