By Ivan Pereira
A John F. Kennedy International Airport security agent from Jackson Heights and his colleague were arrested last week for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in cash from a passenger’s luggage, the Queens district attorney said.
Persad Coumar, 44, of 56th Avenue in Jackson Heights, and Davon Webb, 30, of the Bronx, were arraigned Feb. 16 on several charges, including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, conspiracy and official misconduct, according to Queens DA Richard Brown.
Both men worked as agents for the U.S. Transportation Securities Administration and allegedly concocted a plan to steal the money last month after discovering it while scanning luggage, according to the DA.
“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. 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,” he said in a statement.
The incident allegedly took place Jan. 30 at the American Airlines terminal at JFK, where Coumar is accused of X-raying a piece of luggage and finding what appeared to be a bag containing cash, the DA said. Coumar allegedly called Webb, who worked at the terminal’s baggage belt area, and told him about the discovery, according to Brown.
Webb allegedly searched the bag and confirmed that it did contain cash and marked the bag with tape, the DA said. Later, Coumar swiped an identification card and entered the baggage handling area, where he located the bag that was marked and found $170,000 in it, according to the DA.
He reportedly took $40,000 from the bag and hid it in a box in a nearby bathroom until later when he and Webb allegedly took the cash and hid it in their clothing, Brown said.
The pair’s suspected theft did not go off quietly as a TSA agent found out about it and alerted his supervisor, who called the Port Authority police, according to the DA. PA officers issued a search warrant for Coumar’s home, where they found $23,980 of the stolen cash, and issued another warrant for Webb’s residence, where they found $16,000, the DA said.ï»¿
Coumar allegedly told officers that he spent $20 of the stolen money on food, according to Brown.
The TSA was set to fire the two suspects, who face up to seven years in prison if convicted, the DA said.
“I heartily congratulate our PAPD officers who declared ‘checkmate’ on these checkers,” PA Police Superintendent Michael Fedorko said in a statement.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.