Friday, March 23, 2007

TSA Employees Accused of Thefts at LAX

Victims include Paris Hilton, Keyshia Cole

- Misdemeanor theft cases are being filed against 10 employees and a transient suspected of pilfering the personal property of travelers at LAX, including hotel heiress Paris Hilton and singer Keyshia Cole, the City Attorney's Office announced today.

Most of the alleged thieves are employed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration, said Nick Velasquez of the City Attorney's Office.

A news conference is planned at LAX tomorrow morning to discuss details of the investigation and charges.

"We're a public law office, so whenever there's a significant announcement or a significant legal actions being taken, it's our duty and obligation to tell the public ... that we are working to ensure the safety and security of travelers at LAX," Velasquez said.

Eight of the defendants are TSA employees who work at Los Angeles International Airport and two are employees of an LAX subcontractor, Velasquez said.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo will be joined for the announcement by Larry Fetters, federal security director for the TSA; Jack Hook, special agent in charge with the Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Inspector General; and LAPD Capt. Bob Green, commanding officer of the LAPD-LAX Field Services Division.

During the news conference, Delgadillo will also announce the launch of his "LAX Security Enhancement Initiative," according to Velasquez.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Transatlantic pilot 'more than six times over alcohol flying limit'

Pilot James Yates was almost six and a half times over the drink limit to fly a plane when he turned up at Heathrow

An airline pilot turned up for work while almost six and a half times over the drink limit to fly a plane, a court has heard.

American James Yates, 46, smelled strongly of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet when he turned up for duty at Manchester Airport, it has been claimed.

A First Officer with American Airlines, he was to be one of three pilots on a 10.30am transatlantic flight to Chicago with 181 passengers on board on February 11 last year, Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court was told.

But when he went to go through a security gate for flight crew in his pilots uniform he could not find his identification security pass.

Security staff could smell drink and called in police, who arrested Yates. He then failed a breathalyser test, Martin Walsh, prosecuting, told the jury.

"Police arrived and the defendant smelled strongly of intoxicants, alcohol, and he was asked to provide a specimen of breath," Mr Walsh added.

"He provided a specimen of breath and it was positive."

The first specimen showed Yates had 71 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit for driving a car is 35 micrograms and for an aircraft is nine micrograms, the jury were told.

Yates was arrested and taken to Altrincham Police Station where a doctor took a blood sample.

This gave a result of 129 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, the court was told. The legal limit for flying an aircraft is 20 micrograms.

"He was approaching six and a half times the legal limit for flying an aircraft," Mr Walsh said.

Yates, from Ohio, US, told police he turned up for work to tell the captain he was sick and unable to perform his duties and it was not his intention to be part of the crew on that flight.

"The Crown say that is untrue," Mr Walsh said.

"He arrived at the airport in uniform. He tried to gain entrance through security checks used by the air crew, not by the passengers."

Yates had earlier missed a bus taking flight crew from a hotel to the airport. When the captain had gone to his hotel room he appeared "dishevelled" and followed the rest of the crew in a cab to the airport, the court heard.

Mr Walsh said: "The Crown's case, in essence, is he clearly had been drinking heavily, had consumed alcohol and when he got to the airport his intention was to go through security check-in with the intention of performing his function of first officer on the flight from Manchester to Chicago."

The flight was delayed and had to land in New York because it only had two pilots, not three as required by law for such a long flight, the court was told.

Yates is not charged with attempting to fly an aircraft while over the limit as he did not gain access to the plane.

He denies a single charge of carrying out an activity ancillary to an aviation function, that of acting as first officer, while over the limit.

The case continues.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Off-Duty NWA Worker Charged With Assault On Flight

(WCCO) Minneapolis An off-duty Northwest Airlines employee was arrested after a woman on a flight from Seattle complained that the man had ejaculated on her.

The FBI identified the man as Samuel Oscar Gonzalez, 20, of Lakewood, Wash. He was charged in federal court with simple assault, a misdemeanor.

It happened on the redeye Monday morning from Seattle to Minneapolis. The woman was headed back to college.

Near the end of the flight, the FBI said Gonzalez sat next to the woman as she was trying to sleep. He touched her, which she described as spooning, lifted her shirt and then got up and left. Court documents said she felt a warm fluid on her back, clothes and seat after he walked away. She told the officers he had ejaculated on her.

The woman told the flight attendants about the incident. They moved her to another seat and called police from the air. The crew also moved the man to a seat near the front of the plane until the end of the flight.

Northwest Airlines Corp. said the flight crew asked that police meet the flight from Seattle when it arrived early Monday in Minneapolis, and that's where officers arrested Gonzalez.

The victim told her boyfriend she was told Gonzalez is a Northwest employee.

"I know she was really upset, just kind of confused about what's going on, what's happening," said the victim's boyfriend, Mark, who asked to be identified only by his first name.

Northwest said that Gonzalez was an equipment service worker, a category that includes baggage handlers, but said he was not working at the time.

They released a statement that said, “The NWA employee has been suspended pending a review of the incident. Northwest is cooperating fully with law enforcement authorities on this matter."

The FBI said Gonzalez was detained after his initial appearance in federal court on Monday. He could face up to six months in jail.