US airport staff convicted of stealing money from Indian-origin passengers

US airport staff convicted of stealing money from Indian-origin passengers

A security officer at John F Kennedy International Airport here has been convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from two Indian-origin passengers before they boarded a plane to India and faces up to 14 years in prison.

Alexandra Schmid, 34, who worked as a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer assigned to the city's busiest international airport, has been convicted of grand larceny and other charges for stealing USD 10,000 cash from the two passengers travelling in December 2011 and January 2012.

Schmid was convicted last week following a nearly month-long bench trial before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld, who found her guilty of third degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property and official misconduct.

She would be sentenced in March next year and faces up to 14 years in prison."It is particularly troubling that someone hired to ensure the safety and security of our nation's airlines and to protect all of us from terrorism would stoop to stealing from those she is supposed to protect. The defendant's actions tarnish the reputation of the many TSA agents who faithfully carry out their duties with integrity and pride," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

According to trial testimony, Schmid was on duty in December 2011 when Imrana Ali and her family passed through security before boarding a plane for India.

Schmid separated Ali and her family from their belongings for approximately 15 minutes and when they collected their luggage and other items, she acted rude and strangely while insisting she had not touched their things.

The family then rushed to board their flight and that is when Ali realised that USD 6,000 cash had been taken from her husband's jacket.

The second incident occurred in January 2012 when passenger Rahat Mohammed Shimul and his mother, travelling to India, were screened by Schmid. Shimul alerted Schmid that his mother's pocketbook contained USD 4,000 in cash and jewelry.

Schmid took the man's mother's purse and left the area and returned moments later. Shimul later checked his mother's purse and noticed the cash was gone and asked the officer about the missing money. Schmid instead accused Shimul of stealing it.

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