Airport Screener Charged with Groping Student was a Supervisor

Posted by jhingarat21 on 4th Sep 2015

A TSA screener fired after a 21-year-old said he groped her in a bathroom at LaGuardia Airport on Friday. He was a supervisor with the agency, the TSA said.

New, York — A TSA screener charged with groping a woman in a LaGuardia Airport bathroom was a supervisor who had been with the agency for 13 years, a spokesman said on Monday.

The Transportation Security Administration said it fired Maxie Oquendo, 40, of Manhattan, on Friday night, immediately after he was charged with directing the 21-year-old woman into a bathroom for what he said was a patdown, after she arrived on a flight from Salt Lake City.

A statement issued by the agency saying Oquendo had been fired did not mention his job title. However, TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy confirmed that Oquendo was a supervisory transportation screening officer after the American Federation of Government Employees, the union for rank-and-file screeners, said Oquendo was not a member. Oquendo joined the TSA in 2002, McCarthy said.

Oquendo is due in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday morning on charges including official misconduct and third-degree sexual abuse, said a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

A person who answered the phone at Oquendo’s home said he was not available to comment.

Brown’s office said Oquendo confronted the woman after she arrived on a flight from Salt Lake City, and told her, “Hey, ma’am, I need to scan your body and your luggage.” Oquendo then led her to a bathroom and, despite her objections to being searched by a male screening officer, touched parts of her body over and under her clothing, Brown’s office said.

The woman then reported the incident to Port Authority Police, said Joe Pentangelo, a department spokesman.

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