A TSA officer is being accused of molesting a passenger at the LaGuardia Airport in a bogus security search.
On Friday, authorities said a Transportation Security Administration agent at New York’s LaGuardia Airport was arrested after luring a woman into one of the airport’s restrooms, where he proceeded to molest her Reuters reports.
According to Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the suspect has been identified as 40-year-old Maxie Oquendo, who was wearing a TSA uniform at the time of the alleged incident on Tuesday, August 23.
Oquendo reportedly sought out a 22-year-old female passenger from Korea, who was in a part of the airport that does not require a security search. He then asked her to follow him to an upstairs bathroom, under the false pretense that he would be conducting a security screening.
“Supposedly he took her into another area using his official position, being in uniform, and she thought it was a part of his official duty,” Pentangelo said. “The victim said she knew what he was doing was wrong, but feared the agent.”
Oquendo was later arrested on Thursday, August 27, and is being charged with forcible touching, official misconduct, and unlawful imprisonment,
According to the Examiner, the complaint filed by the woman said the TSA officer approached her and said, “Hey, ma’am, I need to scan your body and your luggage.” After telling her to raise her arms, fondling her, and revealing that he did not really need to check her bags, she said he took out his cell phone and said, “She’s clear. She doesn’t have any weapons or knives.” The woman, however, said the officer was not actually on the phone with anyone, he was just doing it for show.
“A secondary pat-down outside of a checkpoint area is not authorized,” CNN reports Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “A witness must be present when passengers are patted down by officers of the opposite sex. Those searches must be conducted in a private screening area.”
“The defendant is accused of an egregious abuse of his position as a government screener at LaGuardia Airport to sexually victimize a young woman,” Brown said in the statement. “Such alleged conduct cannot, under any circumstances, go unpunished.”
The Transportation Security Administration has since fired the officer.
“TSA is working in close partnership with the Port Authority Police Department in support of this investigation,” TSA administrator Peter Neffenger said in a statement.
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