Photo Courtesy of LaGuardia Airport
According to the criminal complaint, Varanasi “did walk in the exit door passed screening without being screened” in LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal Building.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Authorities last Thursday finally caught up to the wandering traveler who set off a security scare at LaGuardia Airport – including an evacuation – when he strolled into a restricted zone inside Terminal B, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s Office.
Phani Kumar Varanasi, 41, who hails from Sanikpuri, India, was arraigned on a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree criminal trespass. He was released on his own recognizance.
According to the complaint, a Transportation Safety Administration officer told Port Authority detectives that Varanasi “did walk in the exit door passed screening without being screened” in the airport’s Central Terminal Building around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23. The charges state that TSA security surveillance captured a photo of Varanasi, which was a facial identification match to an American Airlines passenger who had just flown in from Detroit.
“There was a TSA agent at that location where my client allegedly was,” Varanasi’s defense attorney argued at his arraignment, according to a New York Daily News report. “He didn’t say anything to my client, didn’t say, ‘Go the other way.’. . . [Varanasi] was simply looking for luggage.”
Security footage allegedly shows a TSA employee posted at the doorway through which Varanasi entered the restricted area. The agency indicated last week that, regarding the officer, “appropriate action will be taken.”