LaGuardia TSA Screener Charged with Molesting Passenger

LaGuardia TSA Screener Charged with Molesting Passenger

PHOTO:  A LaGuardia Airport TSA screener has been fired after he was charged with sexually abusing a female passenger. Photo Courtesy of Lonely Planet


A Manhattan man employed as a Transportation Security Administration screener at LaGuardia Airport has been charged with unlawfully imprisoning and sexually abusing a female college student in an airport bathroom under the pretext of screening her for weapons, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Maxie Oquendo, 40, was arraigned last Friday on a complaint charging him with second-degree unlawful imprisonment, official misconduct, third-degree sexual abuse and second-degree harassment. According to the city Department of Correction, Oquendo posted the $3,000 cash or bond bail the following day and was released from custody. Additionally, a temporary order of protection was issued at his arraignment.

According to the charges, a 21-year-old female college student was exiting LaGuardia after her Salt Lake City flight landed last Tuesday when Oquendo approached her in Terminal B in an area where passengers do not need to be screened, and stated to her, “Hey, ma’am, I need to scan your body and your luggage.”

Oquendo then allegedly motioned with his hand for the woman to follow him to a bathroom, where they waited outside for approximately 10 minutes before entering. Inside, the victim allegedly told Oquendo, “You can’t scan me but you can have a woman scan me because I am a girl.” In response, he allegedly told her to face the mirror and raise both arms up. When the victim asked him if he checked all of the passengers, Oquendo allegedly replied yes.

Oquendo then allegedly had her lift up her shirt and unzip her pants and touched her breasts and other areas of her body over and under her clothing. Afterwards, he told her that he was not going to check her luggage, and spoke into his cell phone, “She’s clear.  She doesn’t have any weapons or knives.”

According to the TSA, officers do not have the authority to conduct a secondary pat-down outside of a checkpoint area, and that opposite-gender screening requiring a pat-down can only be done when there are no female officers present and a witness is present during such pat-downs, which must be conducted in a designated private screening area in a TSA checkpoint.

“TSA has terminated this individual,” said TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger. “TSA holds its employees to the highest standards. As such, we expect our employees to conduct themselves with integrity, professionalism, and with respect for the public we serve. When our employees fail to meet these fundamental ethical standards, we will hold our personnel appropriately accountable. The vast majority of the TSA workforce serves with honor and integrity, and treats every passenger with dignity and respect. TSA is working in close partnership with the Port Authority Police Department in support of this investigation.”

If convicted, Oquendo faces up to a year in prison.


By Michael V. Cusenza




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