Dozens of Pittsburgh TSA employees fired, suspended for involvement in illegal gambling ring [PIT]

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Mike, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Paging Bill Fisher, Bill Fisher, line 1, please!

    The scoreboard is:
    • 5 were fired
    • 47 were suspended
    • 10 letters of reprimand were sent out
    That's 19.9% fired, suspended or reprimanded out of a local TSA workforce of 311.

    WPXI: Dozens of TSA employees fired, suspended for involvement in illegal gambling ring (Sept 19 2013)

    Channel 11 News has learned that dozens of local Transportation Security Administration workers have been fired or suspended for involvement in an illegal gambling ring. After months of investigation, officials with the Pittsburgh office of Homeland security either fired or suspended the workers involved Thursday morning. Channel 11’s Renee Kaminski reported of the 311 local workers, five were fired, 47 were suspended and 10 letters of reprimand were sent out. All of the workers involved are accused of sports gambling at Pittsburgh International Airport while in uniform. Officials said the gambling was a violation of federal regulations.
  2. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Somewhat different accounting here, the probe only recommends the dismissals, etc.:

    Pittsburgh Business Times: Dozens of TSA workers face discipline at Pittsburgh International Airport (Sept 19 2013)

    The probe by the TSA's Office of Professional Responsibility centered around employees' participation in March Madness and National Football League pools. The investigation, which concluded Thursday, recommended the dismissal of five TSA employees, suspensions of 47 others and letters of reprimand for 10 others. There are 311 uniformed TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport.
    None of the employees have been fired although at least three have been placed on administrative leave, according to Kim Kraynak-Lambert, president of Local 332 of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO. AFGE covers about 250 nonsupervisory TSA employees at Pittsburgh International and a handful of other western Pennsylvania airports. The suspensions range between three and 14 days but have not as of yet been handed down.

    Kraynak-Lambert said the union would be contesting the potential dismissals and suspensions. She described those under investigation as longtime TSA employees who have worked for the agency for between six and 11 years each.

    "These are excellent employees who believe in TSA's mission, who are about what they do, and they've done nothing wrong," Kraynak-Lambert said. "... These people are devastated and this is a distraction to our mission right now."


    Any "distraction" to your presumed "mission" is a good thing!
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    So I guess office betting pools aren't "cool" for federal employees?

    CBS Pittsburgh: Dozens Of TSA Employees Fired, Suspended For Illegal Gambling Ring At Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (Sept 19 2013)

    TSA sources tell the KDKA Investigators that the officers were fired or suspended Thursday morning. Of the 311 local TSA workers, five were fired, and 47 were suspended. TSA sources say they just finished a two-month investigation into the office betting. The investigation found that TSA officers at the airport had an office betting pool, and officers were betting on everything from Nascar, to the NCAA, even football. Homeland Security says all of the workers accused of sports gambling at the airport were in uniform at the time, but says public safety and security was never at risk. The investigation determined that no criminal laws were broken, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has turned down the case for criminal prosecution.

  4. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Our tax dollars at work. It's been a busy summer for TSA. Sadly there are no criminal charges being filed so this malfeasance technically isn't a crime although they clearly "stole" taxpayer money by taking pay for gambling but such is the state of government these days. Since apparently rules don't apply so far as TSA is concerned I'll list it in the crimes section of the Master List anyway.

    Just to recap, this is what TSA's "What I Did This Summer" report would include:

    TSA agent accused of helping smuggle illegal immigrants into US
    September 14, 2013

    Former TSA employee Nna Alpha Onuoha arrested, accused of making threats against LAX
    Los Angeles Times
    By Ruben Vives
    September 11, 2013

    DFW Airport Police Targeted Arrest Seven TSA screeners suspected of dealing in stolen parking passes
    NBC –DFW
    By Scott Gordon
    Friday, Sep 6, 2013

    Holly Springs police charge former TSA supervisor Kerene Helen Kimberly Mohammed with shoplifting
    News & Observer
    August 27, 2013
    Staff reports

    TSA Manager Shane Hinkle at Blue Grass Airport charged with sexual abuse of co-worker
    Lexington Herald-Leader
    August 13, 2013
    By Valarie Honeycutt Spears

    TSA officer, ex-Tarpon Springs police officer Larry Kobielnik accused of kidnapping, sexually battering
    Tampa Bay Times
    John Woodrow Cox
    July 27, 2013

    Honolulu TSA screener Tracy Leanne Owens accused of stealing cash
    KITV Honolulu
    July 19, 2013

    Police: TSA employee, Miguel Quinones, had child porn on laptop
    Fox Boston
    June 13, 2013

    If I have time this weekend I'll use this as a story line for a TSA Today post.
    KrazyKat likes this.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Several more articles that I haven't had time to post, but in a nutshell, the quote above that "the investigation determined that no criminal laws were broken" is not quite correct.

    No federal laws were broken. Gambling is illegal under state law, and state laws were broken. It remains to be seen if federal authorities will cooperate with state authorities by turning the evidence over to them for local prosecution.

    Also some articles claim that none of the screeners profited from the office betting pool. That also seems to be incorrect -- the five who are being fired are, in fact, being singled out for that honor because they did make a small profit from their bookie operation.
  6. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    311 TSA employees in the ghost town that is PIT? :confused: Seems like a large number to me.

    I guess gambling was a way to pass the time.
    KrazyKat likes this.
  7. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Does seem excessive for a fly-through airport. I've flown through PIT hundreds of times and have yet to actually fly out of there.
  8. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    In TSA Today:

    From Pittsburgh International Airport comes the news that of their 311 TSA workers, “five employees were recommended for termination, 47 for suspension and 10 given letters of reprimand”. Note that these disciplinary actions are merely recommendations that will be appealed, so when it’s all over probably very few, if any, will actually be punished.

    Additionally there are claims — incorrect — that no laws were broken. Running a bookie operation is a violation of Pennsylvania state law. Although no federal laws were broken, we hope that these cases will be referred to local authorities for prosecution under state law.

    There were further claims — also incorrect — that none of the screeners profited from their illegal activity. It turns out that the five screeners recommended for firing did make a profit from their illegal bookmaking operation.

    Coming on the heels of July’s revelation by the DHS Office of Inspector General that TSA misconduct cases have increased by 26% over the last three years, the Pittsburgh gambling ring should be a reminder that TSA is in need of an overhaul from top to bottom.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  9. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    Technically speaking, the operators are guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree if they engage in pool selling or bookmaking, it just appears that there will be no prosecution in this case - at least, as of this time.

    Based on -

    The biggest problem outside of the legal aspects (which means that it is legally wrong at the root - morally would be a question each person has to answer for themselves) is the fact that these folks were engaging while on duty. That violates MD 1100.73-5-U:

    U. Gambling and Related Activities:
    Employees shall not conduct or participate in any gambling activity while on duty or while in uniform. Gambling activity on Government-owned or leased property includes, but is not limited to, operating a gambling device, conducting a lottery or pool, conducting a game for money or property, or selling or purchasing a numbers slip or ticket. However, for the purposes of this directive, the purchasing of state-sponsored lottery tickets is not considered a gambling activity.
    (Found at AFGEs site here - )

    That is fairly clear cut instructions to not gamble at work in any fashion, to include the practice (specifially named mind you) of operating pools, lotteries or games. I can understand some people having a moral challenge to being reprimanded for participating, as this is a widely accepted practice. I can not understand how anyone involved is surprised or thinks they can justify it after looking at the bloody handbook you have to have for training. I have participated in pools and games of chance before, and may do so in the future, but I read that particular section (and evidently the other folks I work with did too, because I have not heard a peep about a pool here) and took it to heart. I have not, nor will I participate in anything like that here at work because it is so plainly spelled out in the handbook. I am not certain that all of these folks will be punished as the recommendations indicate, but I will probably bet that most if not all will get some form of reprimand. Hopefully, this is an indicator of a coming culture change, with more accountability and more clearly defined and applied standards for the workforce.
  10. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Apparently TSA's employee union can justify these behaviors. TSA looks bad enough on its on, AFGE makes TSA look worse.
  11. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    The comments I've seen are appalled by the sheer number of Those Standing Around at PIT.
    Property confiscation and body rubbing okay, Super Bowl pools, not so much. This is how the TSA wants to show it's cleaning up its act? Fail.
    DeafBlonde and Monica47 like this.
  12. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    Good to know. Next time I'm in LAS I'll make it a point to stroll through the terminal looking TSA employees feeding the slots.

    Smile for the camera! :eek::D
  13. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    If they are doing so in uniform, then they are equally wrong. The MD is just about as clear as it can possibly get - no gambling of any nature while on duty or in uniform, I don't even pick up scratch off tickets in uniform as I interpret it as a violation of a plainly written directive. I can understand someone having the moral disagreement with the MD, but I can not understand, nor will I condone/support, the violation of said MD. If I can refrain until I can change out of uniform and wait until I am off duty, so can everyone else.:mad:
  14. RB

    RB Founding Member

    In your earlier post about the MD it states purchase of state sponsored lottery tickets are not considered gambling. I think scratch off tickets are clearly ok.
  15. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    That may be the case, but why take a chance? Really, why would you take a chance at violating the spirit of the MD? I know that this may just be a personal quirk, but I take the supposition that I am to be held to a higher level of scrutiny due to where I work, seriously. Many people may blow off the stuff like drinking in uniform, gambling in uniform, or any other myriad "little" things that most people simply ignore, but I do not. Like the uniform regulations, there are specific ways to wear the uniform, if our employees can't be expected to follow through on the little things like wearing black socks with the uniform, or not gambling in uniform or on duty, how can they realistically be expected to perform well in an emergency situation? Or God forbid a serious security situation? Some will say that is not seeing the forest for the trees, but there is no forest without the trees. It is fairly simple, it is spelled out in black and white for anyone to read, why do so many people find it that hard to follow? Get the basics right, and the rest of the job pretty much falls into place easily. Do what you are supposed to be doing, learn from mistakes (because we all make them), and make improvements to the process as you learn new information. If we would all do that, the conversation about TSA would be policy changes that bring the process more in line with the public thought process - which should be the over-arching discussion to begin with. I find it difficult to understand why expecting workforce members to take their MDs and clearly spelled out regulations seriously and to do the bloody job the way it is supposed to be done, is considered too nitpicky. I have read so many articles and blog posts indicating that TSA is over-reacting to this particular incident, that an office pool here and there or a small scale numbers operation is "no big deal". I have read tons of posts that indicate the most any of these folks should have gotten was a fingerwag and a "go back to work and don't do it again". Those are misguided comments at best, if I can't rely on workforce members to adhere to the most basic rules, how can I rely on them when it comes to more complex situations?
  16. RB

    RB Founding Member

    As you say the MD in black and white says state sponsored lotteries are not considered gambling. So there is no chance of a violation.

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