Two federal Transportation Security Administration officers have been arrested for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a bag at John F. Kennedy International Airport, law enforcement sources say.
The district attorney identified the officers as Persad Coumar, 44, of Queens, N.Y., and Davon Webb, 30, of Bronx, N.Y. Perad joined the TSA in 2002 and Webb in 2004.
"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 County District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday.
"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."
Coumar is accused of X-raying a piece of baggage and noticing what appeared to be a bag of currency inside it, while working inside an American Airlines terminal on Jan. 30, according to the criminal complaint.
Coumar then phoned Webb, who was in a baggage belt area of American Airlines, and told him about the bag with the money, the District Attorney's office said. Webb then searched the bag and marked it with tape, according to the complaint.
Coumar then went into the baggage handling system area, found the bag, and saw about $170,000 inside, authorities claim. He then allegedly took some of the money from the bag and put it into a box that he took to a nearby bathroom. Coumar and Webb met in the bathroom later and each took some money from the box and hid it in their clothing, the complaint says.
Another TSA employee reportedly told a supervisor some information about the incident. That supervisor reported it to the Port Authority Police, who launched an investigation.
Armed with search warrants, Port Authority officers searched Coumar's Jackson Heights home and found $23,980, the D.A.'s office said. Coumar told cops he used $20 to buy food, police said.
Officers also searched Webb's home, where they said they found $16,000 in cash.
Sources close to the investigation said that during interrogation by detectives, the two men admitted to taking more than $160,000 from bags at the airport dating back to 2004.
Coumar and Webb are charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, fifth-degree conspiracy -- all felonies -- and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.