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TSA officer sentenced for theft from passengers

By Dan Verello, CNN
updated 6:14 PM EDT, Tue September 20, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former TSA officer sentenced to six months home confinement
  • Al Raimi was caught stealing from passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Supervisor took bribes to let stealing continue, officer says

(CNN) -- A Transportation Security Administration officer who pleaded guilty in February to federal charges that he stole from passengers during screenings at Newark Liberty International Airport was sentenced Tuesday to six months of home confinement, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Officer Al Raimi, 30, of New Jersey, pleaded guilty earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Newark.

He admitted that he would "kick up" money to his supervisor, Michael Arato, 42, also of New Jersey, who in turn allowed him to keep stealing.

Arato was sentenced on June 7 to 30 months in prison for his part in the crime, according to Matt Reilly, spokesman at the United States Attorney's Office.

TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told CNN that Raimi and Arato stopped working at the agency as of December 6, 2010.

In addition to home confinement, Raimi was ordered by Linares to pay $24,150 restitution to his victims and pay a $3,000 fine, according to a statement posted on the U.S. Attorney's District of New Jersey website.

After receiving numerous complaints from passengers who claimed valuables were missing from their carry-on luggage after they passed through the airport security screening devices, the TSA and the Port Authority Police Department of New York and New Jersey opened an investigation which included video surveillance of the checkpoint.

According to the original complaint, the violated passengers were predominantly non-English-speaking women of Indian origin who were returning to India after visiting the United States.

Raimi, who was identified in the original complaint as the "co-schemer" with Arato, began cooperating with authorities in September 2010. Raimi told investigators that his supervisor not only had accepted kickbacks in stolen cash, but also stole from passengers himself.

Raimi's plea agreement stated that in August 2010, Raimi was secretly recorded stealing about $5,000 from a female traveler's handbag during a secondary screening of her belongings.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security and detectives and officers of the Port Authority Police Department of New York and New Jersey with the investigation leading to the guilty plea resulting in Tuesday's sentencing.

CNN's Nina Golgowski contributed to this report.

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