ABC News reports that a TSA supervisor at Newark International Airport has been arrested for repeatedly stealing cash from passengers. The supervisor, Michael Arato, ran the scheme with another TSA agent, who is cooperating with the investigation and has not been named.
The pair targeted non-English-speaking women, primarily Indian women leaving the country to head home, and selected them for secondary screening. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said, “Arato literally made a game of stealing hundreds of dollars a day from individuals standing in the security lane. That he targeted them based on their inability to speak English is especially offensive.” Allegedly Arato pocketed around $700 a day.
Arato and his accomplice apparently focused on a single daily flight, Air India’s 6:20 p.m. departure. According to ABC News, the Port Authority, which runs the airport, and the TSA received complaints from passengers on that flight that “money and other valuables in passengers’ carry-on baggage were missing after their baggage was hand searched by TSA employees at the B-3 checkpoint.” Arato’s accomplice was eventually caught on tape, and agreed to set up a sting to catch Arato.
During the sting, Arato gave the middle finger to a security camera while taking $500 from an envelope stolen from a passenger. He also joked about wanting to steal in the presence of his supervisors.
He discussed not feeling shame about stealing from foreigners who were leaving the country with American money.
Arato could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to commit theft and up to a $100,000 fine and one year in prison for three counts of theft by an employee of the government.