Photo Courtesy of JFK
Mizzi most recently worked as an assistant airport duty supervisor at JFK for the Port Authority.
By Forum Staff
A former Port Authority official at John F. Kennedy International Airport has admitted that she accepted gifts and benefits in exchange for providing special treatment to foreign governments, State Attorney General Tish James announced Friday.
Marlene Mizzi, 55, who worked for the agency for 35 years, pleaded guilty to official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, two class A misdemeanors, James noted.
According to court documents, Mizzi most recently worked as an assistant airport duty supervisor at JFK for the Port Authority. During the annual United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, with airport security at a heightened state, Port Authority rules state that foreign state aircraft must depart JFK within two hours of arrival and there is no overnight parking of foreign state aircraft. From 2014 until she left the Port Authority in June 2018, Mizzi was the individual responsible for explaining this rule to foreign countries at a pre-assembly conference.
Mizzi admitted to unilaterally granting exceptions to the overnight parking rule without proper approval for the country of Qatar, allowing a Qatari diplomatic flight to stay overnight during the 2014 UNGA. She acknowledged that in return for the improper exception she granted, a representative from the Qatar Mission to the UN provided Mizzi with free limousine rides, meals, and gifts. According to court documents, Mizzi allegedly received cash, bottles of wine, and other gifts from another foreign state’s representative in return for the same overnight parking privilege.
Mizzi also admitted to receiving other gifts from additional foreign countries for her work at JFK. The Port Authority Code of Ethics has a strict zero tolerance policy on the acceptance of payments, gifts, free meals, or transportation from vendors or anyone the Port Authority does or is likely to do business with, James noted.
“Mizzi broke the law and defiled the public’s trust when she granted favors to foreign governments in exchange for bribes, gifts and rewards,” James added. “When government employees leverage their public positions for personal enrichment, they commit a grave injustice to the people they serve. My office will continue to bring to justice those that engage in corrupt behavior to preserve and protect the integrity of our government agencies.”
Mizzi’s guilty plea is in satisfaction of two indictments filed in Queens last August that stemmed from a joint investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office and the Port Authority Inspector General’s Office.
“The defendant violated her position of public trust and used her position for personal gain,” PA Inspector General Michael Nestor said. “In this case, the defendant chose to enrich herself by accepting cash, travel, meals and other things of value from representatives of foreign governments. The Port Authority will not tolerate employee misconduct or corruption of any kind. Today’s guilty plea will serve notice to all Port Authority employees that the agency will not tolerate violations of the public trust or any other corrupt acts. The Port Authority Office of Inspector General and its law enforcement partners will aggressively identify, investigate, and bring to justice those who corrupt the integrity of the agency.”