Tag Archives: John F. Kennedy International Airport

Queens man arrested for stealing two Jetway motors at JFK


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Port Authority Police Department

Cambria Heights man working at John F. Kennedy International Airport allegedly stole two Jetway motors with the intention of selling them for scrap metal.

On Thursday at the airport’s Terminal 7, witnesses saw 30-year-old James Hicks-Johnson, who works for a de-icing company, place two Jetway motors into his company’s vehicle and then drive off, according to authorities.

Hicks-Johnson did not have any authorization to remove the engines, which were valued at $7,000 each and belonged to British Airways, according to Port Authority Police. When he returned to the terminal he was placed under arrest by Port Authority police officers.

When questioned Hicks-Johnson made statements suggesting that he intended to sell the property for scrap metal, authorities said.

He was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

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Queens residents accused of stealing money orders from mail at JFK Airport


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

MailPileHC1408_X_300_C_R

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Five Queens residents, including two baggage handlers at John F. Kennedy International Airport, are accused of participating in a scheme that involved stealing money orders from internationally-bound mail.

One of the baggage handlers, Kenroy C. Mitchell of St. Albans allegedly deposited 33 stolen money orders into his bank account between November 2013 and January 2014, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. The money orders had been sent via U.S. mail to Japan, Korea and Greece.

Amanda Mackie, 20, of Rosedale, is accused of acting in concert with one of the other suspects, but was employed by Ground Services International as a baggage handler, Brown said. She allegedly deposited a money order meant for Japan into her own bank account this January.

Mitchell was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday, on charges of grand larceny criminal possession of stolen property. He is also charged with acting in concert with one of the other suspects and is accused of stealing more than $25,000, prosecutors said.

Mackie was arraigned Wednesday night and also charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. She is also charged with participating in a scheme to steal and criminally possessing $2,800 in U.S. Postal money orders.

Mitchell and Mackie were released on their own recognizance.

The three other individuals are still being sought, according to the district attorney’s office.

The suspects were identified and caught as the result of a joint investigation that the United States Postal Office and Port Authority Police Department carried out after receiving numerous complaints of money orders not reaching their intended destinations, Brown said. Specifically, the mail was allegedly being handled by Ground Services International and Swissport USA baggage handlers at JFK Airport.

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Cuomo, Biden announce design competition for LaGuardia and JFK


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gov. Cuomo's Flickr

LaGuardia Airport is receiving some love from Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, two prominent figures who both harshly criticized the gateway this year.

Biden and Cuomo held a press conference Monday at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology across from LaGuardia to announce the modernization of the borough’s airports, including launching a redesign competition for both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.

Cuomo also introduced plans to improve Stewart International Airport and Republic Airport in Long Island. Biden supported Cuomo’s ideas, saying improving infrastructure will generate money and increase jobs.

“What you just saw from Gov. Cuomo is that he understands the importance of the overall vision to redesign, to reimagine these four airports,” Biden said. “It’s unacceptable LaGuardia has the worst passenger service in the world. As I said not because of its workers, but because it doesn’t have a structure.”

Earlier this year, Biden criticized LaGuardia, infamously calling it similar to a “third world country.

Cuomo, who previously said the airport was ranked the worst airport in the country, reiterated Biden’s “third world country” quote at the event, adding, “He was right, by the way.”

In his State of the State address this year, Cuomo said the airports were in need of care and proposed the state assume responsibility of the $3.6 billion makeover for LaGuardia’s main terminal.

Also, advocacy group Global Gateway Alliance released renderings in March, showcasing its vision for LaGuardia’s main terminal.

Renderings courtesy of Global Gateway Alliance

Renderings courtesy of Global Gateway Alliance

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JFK duty free shops cashier busted for stealing more than $19K


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A 19-year-old Queens man was arrested for stealing more than $19,200 while he worked as a duty free shops cashier at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to Port Authority police.

Tyrone Simmons, of Jamaica, in an interview with authorities, allegedly indicated his responsibility in the thefts, saying that he took money from the register on several different occasions. He is accused of stealing the cash from this May until the end of August.

Simmons was arrested at the airport by Port Authority police detectives Thursday and charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, officials said.

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Man arrested for trespassing at JFK Airport


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

jfk airport

Police busted a New Jersey man for trespassing after he was caught entering a restricted area of John F. Kennedy International Airport Wednesday morning, authorities said.

Port Authority employees saw William Deenem 22, of Perth Amboy, go inside a fenced area of the airport at about 9:30 a.m, cops said.

He was then placed under arrest by Port Authority police without incident. Deenem has been charged with criminal trespass.

There was no disruption in travel.

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$210K in fake cash seized at JFK cargo facility


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection


A picture is worth $210,000 in counterfeit bills.

A recent search at a John F. Kennedy International Airport cargo facility uncovered thousands in counterfeit money after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers found the fake cash hidden in a shipment within several laminated photos and colorful cases, according to the CBP.

On July 15, the officers were examining an express consignment shipment manifested as “Handycrafts Pictures” containing 20 laminated pictures and three electronic protective cases. During their search, they discovered what appeared to be counterfeit money within the pictures and cases, officials said. In total, 1,252 counterfeit U.S. $100 bills were seized.

The following day, CBP officers examined an express consignment shipment manifested as “Handycraft Bags” that contained one electronic case and three organizer bags, and uncovered 853 counterfeit U.S. $100 bills, according to the CBP.

Over those two days, a total of 2,105 counterfeit bills, or $210,500, were found, and turned over to the U. S. Secret Service. There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing, officials said.

 

 

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Comedian will not be prosecuted for elbowing woman at JFK


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Port Authority Police

A comedian who was arrested Tuesday for elbowing a woman at John F. Kennedy International Airport will reportedly not be prosecuted.

Kevin Meaney, 58, whose work includes appearances on Saturday Night Live and the Late Show with David Letterman and a starring role in the early 1990s CBS sitcom “Uncle Buck,” was at the airport’s Terminal 1 about 6:30 p.m. when the incident occurred, officials said.

Port Authority police initially said Meaney came up to a 29-year-old woman while she was walking and elbowed her in the chest for “no apparent” reason, then was arrested on an assault charge.

The woman reported experiencing chest pain, but refused medical attention, officials said.

But, according to Reuters, after reviewing video footage of the incident, prosecutors determined that the two just bumped into each other, and the Queens District Attorney said he will not be prosecuted for the assault.

Tuesday’s incident was the second time Meaney, who also appeared in the movie “Big,” and was in Broadway’s Hairspray, was arrested at an airport. In 2002, he was arrested at San Francisco International Airport when he tried to grab a National Guardsman’s M-16 rifle after he was told to stop filming security operations with his video camera, according to SFGate.com.

 

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Comedian arrested for elbowing woman at JFK Airport


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Port Authority Police


The joke’s on him.

A  New York City stand-up comedian and actor was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport for elbowing a woman Tuesday “for no apparent reason,” Port Authority Police said.

Kevin Meaney, 58, whose work includes appearances on Saturday Night Live and the Late Show with David Letterman and a starring role in the early 1990s CBS sitcom “Uncle Buck,” was at the airport’s Terminal 1 about 6:30 p.m. when the incident occurred.

Meaney allegedly came up to a 29-year-old woman while she was walking and elbowed her in the chest.

Police said Meaney jabbed the woman “for no apparent reason,” and witnesses confirmed the victim’s claim.

The woman reported experiencing chest pain, but refused medical attention.

Meaney was arrested without incident and charged with assault, according to Port Authority Police.

The comedian also appeared in the movie “Big,” and was in Broadway’s Hairspray.

Tuesday’s incident was the second time Meaney was arrested at an airport. In 2002, he was arrested at San Francisco International Airport when he tried to grab a National Guardsman’s M-16 rifle after he was told to stop filming security operations with his video camera, according to SFGate.com.

 

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Pennsylvania man busted at JFK with loaded gun, metal knuckles


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TSA

A Pennsylvania man is facing some serious prison time after he was caught at John F. Kennedy International Airport trying to board a plane with a loaded handgun and a martial arts weapon.

Richard Forti, 55 of Annville, in Central Pennsylvania, was passing through security on his way to Los Angeles Wednesday morning when he was busted with the weapons, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and District Attorney Richard Brown.

As he passed through airport security, Forti removed his vest and placed it in a bin to go on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed. It was at that point that a TSA officer saw the .32 caliber gun, which was loaded with five rounds, in the pocket of the vest, the TSA said. Forti also allegedly had a cat eye-knuckles martial arts weapon with him that showed up on the TSA x-ray machine.

Port Authority police then confiscated the weapons and arrested Forti, the TSA said.

At the time of his arrest, Forti allegedly told police “The vest is mine and I put the gun in there for protection.  Those are my knuckles.  I put them in my vest,” according to Brown.

“It is beyond comprehension why intelligent people would think that it is okay to board an airplane with a loaded gun on their person,” Brown said.

Forti is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on numerous charges of criminal possession of a weapon, prosecutors said.  If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

 

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Port Authority bids farewell to K-9 partner


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) said goodbye to one of its best friends, a German shepherd named Phoenix, who helped protect the city’s travelers for over seven years.

Phoenix, a member of the PAPD K-9 Unit, Explosives Detection, recently passed away after fighting a long battle with cancer.

The bomb-sniffing dog was assigned to the unit in 2007 at 2 years old and since then loyally served alongside PAPD Officer Donald Golding.

“Phoenix never wavered in his dedication to duty,” Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo said. “He was a good will ambassador and a crime fighter, and he will be missed.”

For over seven years, Phoenix, who lived with Golding, started the day at John F. Kennedy International Airport and from there was deployed to various locations throughout the city.

Together with Golding, Phoenix had searched thousands of unattended bags and packages as part of the PAPD’s mission to protect travelers at its airports, seaports, terminals and PATH system, Pentangelo said.

Phoenix was also featured in the PAPD’s 2014 wall calendar and appeared on one of the Port Authority’s public awareness posters.

When he wasn’t taking a bite out of crime, the German shepherd also took part in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s community outreach, where children were able to enjoy his “playful nature,” Pentangelo said.

 

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Heroin found in JFK passenger’s underwear


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of U. S. Customs and Border Protection

A man flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this month got his panties in a bunch when he was caught with heroin in his underwear, according to U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.

The alleged smuggler, Bernard Charles, was caught after arriving at the airport on a flight from Trinidad on April 1, CBP said.

During a baggage examination, he allegedly “exhibited numerous signs of nervousness.” He was then taken to private room where CBP officers conducted a physical search of Charles and found two clear packages in his groin area, officials said.

The packages allegedly contained a brown paste-like substance that tested positive for heroin. In total, 1.79 pounds of the drug were seized, with an approximate street value of more than $70,000, according to CBP.

Charles, a Trinidad and Tobago citizen, was arrested and now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges.

 

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New travel plaza opens at JFK


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

Weary drivers looking for a break can now zip over to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and rest at the city’s only travel plaza.

Airport Plazas, a company that builds rest areas, held a grand opening on Thursday of its $13 million rest spot on the outskirts of JFK on 150th Avenue.

The retail lot has a Sunoco gas station, a Wendy’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, 7-Eleven, a pizzeria, restrooms, a car wash and a dry cleaner, and Airport Plazas is looking to add a bank. There is also a food court with Wi-Fi and a screen with current flight information.

“JFK did not have a main street,” said George Abi Zeid, president and CEO of Airport Plazas. “This plaza is a main street for JFK. A place where you could stop, meet people, have a fresh cup of coffee… fuel your car, sit and relax, and you could use the facilities and use the restroom, which is one of the cleanest restrooms you’ll ever see in a travel plaza.”

Besides being a rest area, the travel plaza also offers four different fuel selections, including Diesel, E85, natural gas and Tesla Motors’ electric car charges. There are also many many parking spaces available.

The rest area is also expected to bring an economic boost to the neighborhood. The retail area will employ about 90 people, mostly from nearby neighborhoods, and bring an estimated economic impact of $40 to $50 million to the community, Abi Zeid said.

“The Port Authority needs every applause they could get these days,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “This is what it’s all about in these tough economic times as we look to go a little forward we look for ways in which we could increase jobs, protect our environment and hopefully again protect our economy.”

 

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Taxi dispatchers busted for allegedly taking cash bribes at JFK


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Sixteen men, including seven Queens residents, have been charged with illegally taking cash bribes in a taxi-dispatching scheme at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), officials announced Wednesday.

The taxi dispatchers, who were employed by the Port Authority of New York  & New Jersey subcontractor Gateway Group One Frontline Services, were busted in an undercover operation following an anonymous tip, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

They are accused of accepting cash bribes to rig the dispatching system at JFK so taxi drivers could “basically ‘cut the line’ and get ahead,” Brown said.

At the airport, dispatchers regulate the taxis between a central holding location and the terminal pick-up area, according to the district attorney. The average wait time in the holding area is about two to three hours. When a dispatcher gives taxis a fare to nearby locations, such as Queens or Brooklyn, drivers receive a Short Haul, or “shorty,” ticket, which allows them to skip the central holding area and go directly to the terminal to pick-up passengers, Brown said.

The accused men allegedly accepted ten dollar cash payments to allow undercover cab operators to bypass long lines without waiting in the central holding area even though they did not have shorty tickets.

The sixteen accused dispatchers are currently waiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, each of which is punishable by up to one year in jail, according to the district attorney.

 

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FBI: Laser beam strikes targeting planes increase in NYC airports


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A crime that can temporarily blind airplane pilots and put air passengers at risk is spiking in New York City airports, authorities said.

Laser beam strikes targeting in-bound planes have increased 39 percent in the city, the FBI said. The number of incidents jumped to 99 in 2013 from 71 in 2012.

Authorities believe youngsters on top of residential roofs are aiming the powerful light beams at airplane cockpits as a prank.

“Laser incidents are often viewed as harmless acts. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “A laser pointed at a plane’s cockpit could blind a pilot and down an aircraft.”

At least 35 pilots have been injured by laser strikes since last December, the FBI said.

In one instance, a JetBlue pilot flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport last December was temporarily blinded for more than a week, the bureau said.

The federal agency is offering up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest and is hoping its regional awareness campaign deters the felony, which is punishable by five years in jail.

“It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

The pointers can be easily and legally purchased, authorities said, and the beams can travel further than one mile.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000.

 

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Queens highways, other city infrastructure ‘badly’ in need of repair: report


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons / Jim.henderson

Queens is facing some serious infrastructure challenges, according to a new report.

The Center for an Urban Future found the borough has five of the nine worst maintained highways in the city.

Based on a 10-point scale, where 1 to 5 is considered “poor,” 6 is “fair,” 7 to 8 is “good,” and 9 to 10 is “excellent,” in 2012, the Jackie Robinson Parkway received a surface rating of 5.8, and the Shore Front Parkway, Cross Bay Parkway Route 25A and Route 24 earned a 6.0.

Overall, highway conditions in the borough have been deteriorating, the report said. In 2008, 38 percent of Queens highways were rated “fair” or “poor.” Four years later, 52 percent were in the same shape.

The report, released Tuesday, showed additional infrastructure issues in the borough.

About 30 percent of its streets were in “fair” or “poor” condition.

Other findings showed that Queens New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments have the most deteriorated building façades and roofs, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspections. Four of the NYCHA complexes in the borough need over $70 million in façade repairs through 2016.

Several of the city’s oldest wastewater treatment plants are in eastern Queens, including Jamaica (1943) and Bowery Bay near Flushing (1939), according to the report.

John F. Kennedy International Airport also needs upgrades due to age.

Its facilities are 40 years old on average, “with 63 percent of cargo space considered ‘non-viable,’ or unfit for modern screening, storage and distribution,” the report said.

Queens was not alone in its infrastructure problems.

The report calculated that New York City needs $47 billion over the next four to five years to bring its “aging infrastructure to a state of good repair.”

It found that a “significant portion” of the city’s bridges, water mains, sewer pipes, school buildings and other important infrastructure is more than 50 years old and “badly” in need of repair.

“New York won’t be able to address every one of the city’s infrastructure vulnerabilities at this time,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future and co-editor of the report. “But if a significant chunk of the city’s critical infrastructure is not brought to a state of good repair in the years ahead, it could seriously undermine the city’s economic competitiveness and quality of life—and lead to substantial long-term costs.”

The aging infrastructure includes 1,000 miles of water mains more than 100 years old; more than 160 bridges across the five boroughs that were built over a century ago; and 6,300 miles of gas mains that are on average, 56 years old.

The report suggests creating new dedicated revenue sources to pay for repairing and modernizing infrastructure.

 

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