FORMER TSA OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY
TO FEDERAL EXTORTION AND BRIBERY CHARGES
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that CHRISTOPHER ALLEN, 46, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., formerly a Transportation Security Administration officer based at Palm Beach International Airport, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven to federal charges related to his acceptance of cash in exchange for facilitating the transportation of illegal narcotics through airport security without detection.
“This defendant received cash payments to violate his oath of public office and look the other way as large quantities of oxycodone pills passed unlawfully through airport security,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “For obvious reasons, we cannot tolerate corruption within the ranks of those who are entrusted with the responsibility for screening air travelers and their baggage. I commend the DEA Task Force for shutting down a pipeline of highly addictive prescription pills from Florida to Connecticut, and for bringing to justice this federal employee and others who participated in this illegal scheme.”
This matter stems from “Operation Blue Coast,” an investigation headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force into the large-scale trafficking of oxycodone pills from Florida to Connecticut. The investigation revealed that an individual regularly purchased oxycodone from suppliers in Florida, transported the oxycodone to Connecticut by commercial airline or automobile, and sold the pills to various Connecticut-based narcotics traffickers. The narcotics trafficker traveled from Florida to Connecticut several times a week carrying up to 8000 oxycodone pills per trip. He then used drivers to transport him to and from narcotics transactions during which he would sell all of the pills he transported from Florida. After exchanging low-denomination currency for larger notes, he transported the proceeds of his oxycodone sales from Connecticut to Florida, either by having a courier drive the money or by using commercial airline flights.
According to court documents and statements made in court, ALLEN, while employed as a Transportation Security Agency officer at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., accepted cash payments from the narcotics trafficker to ensure that the trafficker would not be stopped by TSA officers as he carried oxycodone pills through airport security on his way to Connecticut. On four occasions between May and August 2011, the narcotics trafficker, who by this time was cooperating with law enforcement, paid ALLEN $500 in cash to allow the trafficker to travel safely through airport security. On two of these trips, the narcotics trafficker traveled with an undercover law enforcement officer.
As disclosed in court, the evidence in this case includes recorded conversations among ALLEN, the cooperating narcotics trafficker and the undercover law enforcement officer.
ALLEN was arrested on September 13, 2011.
Today, ALLEN pleaded guilty to one count of extortion under color of right, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of receipt of a bribe by a public official, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kravitz on July 5, 2012.
Twenty individuals have been charged as a result of this investigation. As to the defendants who are awaiting trial, charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, which includes personnel from the Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport, Milford, Norwalk, Stamford and Westport Police Departments; the Drug Enforcement Administration in Florida and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. In addition, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Greenwich, Monroe, Danbury and Waterbury Police Departments have assisted the investigation.
U.S. Attorney Fein also acknowledged the cooperation of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the Florida Highway Patrol, and the substantial assistance provided by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
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