NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that GERMIEL AUSTIN, age 35, a resident of Amite, Louisiana, was sentenced January 9, 2020 after previously pleading guilty to providing a document containing false statements to the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”).
United States District Court Judge Barry W. Ashe sentenced AUSTIN to 2 years of probation, with 6 months to be served on home incarceration, and a $100 special assessment fee. 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 who require 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 the referenced probation office.
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.
* * *