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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 24, 2015

FAA Inspector Charged with Bypassing TSA Passenger Screening in Violation of TSA's Security Requirements

ATLANTA - Ernest E. Abbott has been arraigned on federal misdemeanor charge of unlawfully entering Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and an airplane without submitting to the security requirements for all passengers as administered by Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“The security of all airline passengers is of paramount concern,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “Neither FAA employees who travel for work nor any other passenger is exempt from the consequences when they fail to submit to the airport security screening process.”   

“Protecting the traveling public and maintaining public confidence in the safety of commercial air travel is of utmost importance,” said Marlies Gonzalez, Special Agent-in-Charge for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General. “Working with our Federal, State and local law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, we will vigorously pursue those who violate the law designed to protect the safety of travelers.”

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Abbott, a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector, flew from Atlanta, Georgia, to New York on January 12, 2015.  Prior to boarding his flight, Abbott used his Hartsfield Jackson International Airport employee access card to bypass TSA passenger screening.  Abbott came to the attention of TSA the very next day after a firearm was detected in his carry-on luggage when he attempted to fly back to Atlanta.  He was subsequently charged in New York with unlawfully possessing a firearm.

Ernest E. Abbott, 69, of Sugar Hill, Georgia, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard.  He was charged in a Criminal Information filed on April 15, 2015.

Members of the public are reminded that the Criminal Information only contains charges.  The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant United States Attorney Tracia M. King is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Updated April 24, 2015