Former Security Screener at Reno-tahoe Airport Sentenced for Making False Statement
Reno, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Ellen Knowlton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Nevada (FBI), and Madelyn Sawyer, Manager of Aviation Security and Investigations for the Western Pacific Regional Office of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), announce that CHERYL YVONNE SHEARS, age 47, a resident of Reno, Nevada, was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge David W. Hagen to two years probation for her guilty plea to Making a False Official Statement, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.
According to the court records, on November 16, 2001, at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, SHEARS, an employee of a company which contracted with Southwest Airlines to conduct pre-boarding physical searches of passengers and their carry-on luggage, reported to an FAA official that she found a knife in a passenger's carry-on bag and denied the passenger access to the airplane, but that the passenger grabbed the knife from her and returned into the airport. SHEARS also reported that the same man followed her to the restroom and opened the door to her stall and pointed a gun at her head, and returned to the secure area of the airport. SHEARS reported she was so frightened following the incident, that she went to an airport bar and drank a double vodka before reporting it to authorities. Once SHEARS reported the incident, the B Concourse was evacuated and flight operations were suspended. A security sweep of the area turned up negative. When an FBI agent later interviewed SHEARS, she reported the same version of events, but then admitted that the story she had provided was false and had been concocted to cover up her consumption of alcohol while on duty.
SHEARS was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to cover court costs and to comply with special conditions of probation pertaining to substance abuse.
Special Agents of the FBI and FAA conducted the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sue Fahami.