New York (CNN) -- It was a security breach at one of
the country's busiest airports conducted on a tiny scale.
Eighteen workers at New
York's JFK Airport were arrested on Wednesday and accused of stealing
more than 100,000 mini-bottles of alcohol from LSG Sky Chefs, which
provides food and beverages for American Airlines.
The arrests capped off a
nine-month investigation, dubbed "Operation Last Call" by the Port
Authority's Office of Inspector General.
Most of the accused were
employed by LSG, but three were security guards hired by private
contractors to guard JFK Airport and American Airlines. The guards are
charged with taking bribes to look past the thefts and for receiving
stolen property."The defendants arrested
in Operation Last Call violated and sold out their position of trust and
access to the secure areas of the airport, including access to
commercial aviation, all for personal greed," said Robert Van Etten,
inspector general for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
which operates JFK Airport.
Prosecutors allege that
15 employees of LSG pilfered bottles of alcohol left over from various
American Airlines flights and sold them on the underground market to
local liquor stores and bodegas. Taking place over many months, these
thefts yielded an estimated retail value of $750,000.
Law enforcement sources
said the ring revolved around Domingo Duran, a retired LSG Sky Chefs
An early morning raid on
Duran's home in Queens uncovered more than 50,000 mini-bottles of
alcohol and $34,000 in cash. Duran faces 15 years in prison on charges
of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
CNN's attempts to reach
Duran for comment were unsuccessful.
Two of the three
security guards worked for FJC Security Services, which has
responsibilities for guarding the facilities at JFK Airport. The third
security guard was employed by SCIS Air Security, which has a contract
to guard airline property.An FJC spokesman said
that the firm had been alerted to the alleged activity by an anonymous
tip in November 2011, a half year after taking over the security
contract at JFK. FJC immediately turned over the information to the Port
Authority, which commenced a formal investigation.
The case culminated when
the LSG workers were summoned to an early morning meeting, where they
were arrested in their uniforms.
"They were engaged in
the widespread theft and distribution of liquor and other duty free
items," Van Etten said. "These arrests will serve notice that the Port
Authority of will not tolerate criminal activity at its facilities."
LSG Sky Chefs declined
The accused each face
between seven and 15 years in prison.
IMHO, no one will spend a day in jail for this. We wont hear of this again.
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