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Crime & Cases September 5, 2013  RSS feed

JFK Baggage Bandits Carted To Jail

Say They Stole Valuables From Passengers
by Max Jaeger

Seven contract bag handlers employed at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) were charged last Friday, Aug. 30, with stealing jewelry and electronics from luggage after passengers noticed the contents of their bags had not only shifted during flight— they had disappeared altogether.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced, Friday, that the men—including one defendant from Corona and another from Richmond Hill—were variously charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal mischief, petit larceny and attempted petit larceny.

The Queens DA’s Office names the defendants as Julio Salas, 44, of Corona; Udhoo Doodnauth, 27, of Richmond Hill; Tristan Bredwood, 22, of Saint Albans; Dashawn Schooler, 25, of Wyandanch, New York; Romaine Smith, 25, of the East New York section of Brooklyn; Oshaine Christie, 22, of Rosedale; and Nkosi Cunningham, 24, of the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

The men worked for El Al Airlines, which runs flights from JFK to Israel. They allegedly stole thousands of dollars in cameras, tablet computers, cell phones and jewelry from the bags of incoming and departing travellers as they loaded them onto the plane.

According to the DA’s office, El Al became suspicious when passengers repeatedly reported items missing from their luggage. The airlines installed security cameras in its baggage hold as an internal security measure, it was noted.

Videos taken between April 1 and Aug. 28 of this year reportedly captured the defendants opening luggage and rifling through bags. Some footage allegedly shows the defendants removing jewelry, cash, watches, computers and other items from luggage and putting them into their pockets or down their pants.

Some defendants admitted to the thefts during interviews with Port Authority Police, and thousands of dollars in jewelry and electronics were recovered from their homes and cars during warranted searches, according to information from the DA’s office.

Items recovered include several iPhones and iPads, several digital cameras, Playstaion video game consoles, cologne and an array of watches—one of which Schooler was wearing during his arrest, the DA’s office noted.

The defendants were ordered held on $1,000 bail with the exception of Smith and Cunningham who were released without bail, Aug. 30.

They were ordered to return to court on Sept. 28, except for Smith (Sept. 23), Salas (Sept. 24) and Cunningham (Oct. 24).

The case was investigated by Detective Dewan Maharaj of the Port Authority Police Department under the supervision of Sergeant Thomas Bomango and Lieutenant Jose Alba, and the overall supervision of Captain Ray Bryan and Superintendent Michael Fedorko.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Catherine C. Kane, Chief, Airport Investigations Unit, of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, under the supervision Gerard A. Brave, Bureau Chief, and Mark L. Katz, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy ExecutiveAssistant DistrictAttorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.

It was noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.