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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

San Francisco International Airport Security Screener Sentenced To A Year In Prison For Her Role In A Conspiracy To Obstruct The Transportation Security Administration

SAN FRANCISCO – Jessica Scott, an employee of Covenant Aviation Security (CAS), a private company that contracts with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), was sentenced today to one year and a day in prison for her role in a conspiracy to defraud the federal government, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Transportation Security Administration Office of Inspection Special Agent in Charge Regan O. Fong.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, following a guilty plea in which Scott admitted permitting carry-on luggage to pass through a checkpoint undetected at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Scott, 29, of San Pablo, Calif., pleaded guilty on March 28, 2017, to conspiring to defraud the government in connection with a drug smuggling operation at SFO.  According to her plea agreement, on July 18, 2013, her former husband, Joseph Scott, 35, of Vallejo, told her that a friend would be coming through the terminal and that the friend’s bag was “good.”  Jessica Scott understood that she was being asked for her assistance to ensure that the carry-on luggage would not be subject to a secondary check when the passenger passed through security.  The defendant admitted that she deliberately avoided learning what was in the bag by failing to take steps to investigate the luggage—even though she knew there was a high probability that the luggage contained drugs.  In addition, the defendant admitted that when she saw the x-ray image of the carry-on luggage, she recognized three bright orange bricks and three bright green bricks that, based on her training and experience, she knew might have been explosives.  Jessica Scott nevertheless allowed the luggage to pass through security without further investigation.  

On November 3, 2015, Jessica Scott was indicted along with Joseph Scott and another former Lead Transportation Security Officer for CAS.  All three were charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the TSA by obstructing a lawful government function, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and one count conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841.  Pursuant to her plea agreement, Jessica Scott pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to obstruct charge.  

In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer also ordered Jessica Scott to serve a three-year term of supervised release.  On June 27, 2017, Joseph Scott pleaded guilty to one count of receiving a bribe as a public official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2).  Judge Breyer set his sentencing for  November 15, 2017.   

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Vartain Horn is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Wincy Wong.  The investigation has involved officers and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the TSA Office of Inspection, San Francisco Police Department, and the Oakland Police Department.  This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  

Drug Trafficking
Public Corruption
Updated September 5, 2017