They're supposed to keep airline passengers safe. But two TSA screeners in New Jersey did just the opposite, say Justice Department officials, and facilitated a crime ring that cheated screened passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport out of between $10,000 and $30,000.
According to a Justice Department release, Michael Arato, a 41-year-old TSA supervisor, admitted yesterday he accepted bribes and kickbacks from an employee who stole money regularly from passengers during security screenings. WNYW explains how the process worked:
Prosecutors say Arato permitted a worker he supervised to steal between $10,000 and $30,000 in cash from travelers' bags over a 13-month period. In exchange, the subordinate would give a portion of the money to Arato. The subordinate, who was not named, cooperated with the federal investigation that led to Arato's arrest in October.
Surveillance cameras caught Arato accepting over $3,000 in bribes during a single three-week period.
He pleaded guilty to the charges against him and faces 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced on May 24.