NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that GERMIEL AUSTIN, age 35, a resident of Amite, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today to a one-count bill of information charging him with providing a document containing false statements to the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”).
According to court documents, the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) is an agency of the United States government responsible for the issuance of Transportation Worker Identification Credential (“TWIC”) cards. TWIC cards are biometric credentials issued to individuals which allows unescorted access to security-sensitive transportation sectors such as airports, railroads, chemical plants, and maritime ports. TSA ensures that each applicant undergoes a security threat assessment to determine a person’s eligibility. Convictions for certain criminal offenses can either permanently or temporarily disqualify applicants from consideration. Applicants can sometimes be granted a waiver.
On July 25, 2014, AUSTIN composed and faxed a letter in his own name, to the “TSA TWIC Processing Center” explaining the facts surrounding a previous criminal conviction and indicated that he was not a “threat or risk” in an attempt to have a waiver granted. On the same day, AUSTIN faxed a second letter to the “TSA TWIC Processing Center” that falsely claimed to be from his probation officer. The letter falsely indicated that the defendant successfully completed probation and has demonstrated “his intention to maintain a law-abiding lifestyle.” An agent with the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, later determined that no person having the name used by AUSTIN had ever been employed by his parole office.
AUSTIN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than five (5) years, a fine of $250,000.00, and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00. Sentencing has been set for January 9, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of United States Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard Investigative Service agents in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jon Maestri is in charge of the prosecution.
* * *