BOSTON (CBS) – Several commercial airline employees at Logan Airport are facing conspiracy and money laundering charges for allegedly using their security clearances to smuggle $417,000 in cash past security checkpoints and onto commercial flights.
The U.S. Attorney’s office says Rupert Crossley, 25, of Lynn; Eric Vick, 24, of Mattapan; Anthony Trotman, 24, of Boston; Alvin Leacock, 27, of Hollywood, Florida — all JetBlue Airways ground operations crew members — and Dino Dunkley, 31, of Boston, a Delta Air Lines customer service ramp agent, were all charged with money laundering and of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Read: Complaint Affidavit .pdf
Investigators say each of the suspects received cash payments for helping smuggle the cash, which they were told was drug money.
According to the criminal complaint, a former airline employee tipped off the feds to possible abuse by other employees of security credentials back in 2012.
A sting operation was set up in August 2012, and that person, posing as a member of a drug trafficking organization, convinced Crossley to help smuggle $35,000 through TSA security area checkpoints. He also convinced Crossley to recruit other people to do the same.
The complaint says a total of nine transactions took place during the investigation between August 2012 and February 2014, with the suspects moving $25,000 to $57,000 at a time.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports
The suspects received payments between $1,000 and $2,500 for each smuggling run, according to the court documents.
On one instance, investigators say one of the suspects, Eric Vick, actually flew to Florida on JetBlue to deliver $25,000 in cash to an undercover agent.
Aside from drug money, Vick allegedly offered at one point to smuggle a firearm past TSA.
“You want to test something out… whatever you want to do… We straight. You got a stick for me right now? We can do that, bro,” the criminal complaint alleges he told the cooperating witness. The offer was reported to have been declined.
Another suspect, Anthony Trotman is accused of offering to smuggle drugs.
Trotman’s attorney, Keith Halpern says the government created the crime with which his client is charged. He plans to pursue an entrapment defense.
All four suspects appeared in US District Court in Boston Thursday afternoon. No pleas were entered, the men are due back in court next week.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison.
MassPort has issued a statement praising the investigation.
“Massport takes the safety and security of the people who use and work at our facilities as its highest priorities. We partner continuously with federal, state and local law enforcement, the TSA and other federal agencies,” the statement said. “We applaud this investigation and cooperated fully in it. As part of Logan’s security program, all persons receiving identification that provides unescorted access to the secure areas undergo careful vetting which includes a criminal background check.”
The TSA also released a statement:
“Airport operators are responsible for developing and implementing a security plan which includes procedures to provide airport and airline employees with access to an airport’s secure areas. TSA approves each airport’s security plan and conducts comprehensive inspections to ensure compliance. As part of TSA’s multi-layered security approach, all airport and airline employees undergo a security threat assessment prior to receiving credentials and access privileges. Employees are then subject to continuous vetting. Transportation security officers and inspectors are deployed on a random and unpredictable basis to screen airport and airline workers as they enter or work within the secure area. If employees fail to follow proper procedures in accessing secure areas, they may be restricted from future access, disciplined or subject to civil penalties and criminal charges.”
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