Recently, two former TSA screeners, 44-year-old Coumar Persad and 31-year-old Davon Webb were convicted of stealing $40,000 from a passenger’s luggage at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. The amount of cash and the involvement of TSA officers obviously makes the story notable. However, what I found quite remarkable was the sentence that they received; six months in jail and five years probation. That is a remarkably light sentence for federal employees involved in a major theft while using public authority and resources.
The men worked together with Persad calling Webb to tell him that his x-ray screen spotted cash. Webb, who worked in another baggage area, then marked the bag with red tape. Persad later intercepted the bag in another baggage handling area and removed the cash. The men then divided the money in a bathroom.
That would constitute grand larceny, but they were given a sentence that falls on the border with a misdemeanor.
In New York, grand larceny applies for crimes with any theft over $1,000. This would be 40 times that amount. Under NY Penal Law § 155.42m grand larceny in the first degree is a Class B felony that receives up to 25 years in prison. NY Penal Law § 155.40 and grand larceny in the second degree weighs in at 15 years in prison. Even the lowest, grand larceny in the fourth degree under NY Penal Law § 155.30 brings up to 4 years in prison.
The disconnect in the case with other cases is quite remarkable, even discounting the different legal systems. For example, a rapper who stole a purse with $6000 was given a seven year sentence. I would put two TSA officers stealing $40,000 as a bit more serious than a ramped up purse snatching. Even singing rabbi got one to three years for stealing $36,000 from a woman.
I fail to understand why, even with a plea, these men were given such a light sentence. They did not come forward on their own and used public trust to commit this crime.