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Airport screener swipes $300 from purse, feds say

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A Newark Airport screener took $300 from a woman’s purse and then lied about it when he was caught red-handed, federal authorities said. The woman’s belongings went through the x-ray machine on Feb. 3 when 44-year-old Leroy Ray of Newark pulled the tray to search it at another table, investigators charge in a complaint.

Ray, a lead transportation security officer, is suspended by the Transportation Security Administration. A U.S. magistrate judge released him on bail pending the disposition of embezzlement charges.

According to documents filed by the government and statements made in federal court:

“After Ray found a white object in the victim’s bag, he took his gloves off and held them in one hand. Once the victim retrieved her personal property and proceeded towards her departure gate, Ray moved away from the checkpoint and placed the gloves in a pocket of his pants.

“After throwing the gloves away, Ray continued touching the pocket, in which an object was visible, numerous times.

Several minutes later, the victim returned and indicated she was missing an envelope containing approximately $300 in cash, as well as approximately $195 in cash from inside a zippered pocket of her bag.

“Shortly thereafter, Ray abruptly began walking quickly away from the location where he was working. He went into his supervisor’s office, pulled his left hand out of his pocket, and placed a white object in a “lost and found” tray.

“Ray then returned to the area around the check point. Several officials had gathered around the victim, to begin investigating her complaint regarding the missing money.

“Without being asked, and without being told that the victim was missing anything, Ray stated to these other officials that – in sum and substance – he remembered the victim, he knew what she had left behind, and that he had found an envelope on the floor and had recovered it.

“An official retrieved a white envelope from the “lost and found” tray in the supervisor’s office. The envelope contained approximately $300, which the victim identified as hers.”

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman credited the TSA for its work.

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