Ex-TSA official risks up to a decade in the slammer for jewelry theft

Are fees for extra bags reason enough to keep you from checking luggage? Well, thanks to a rogue Transportation Safety Administration, you now have another one. Randy Pepper, a former TSA supervisor has entered a guilty plea, admitting to the theft of more than $20,000 in passenger belongings, including jewelry, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The 50-year-old, on whom the traveling public relied to protect its bags, was fired in July 2009, when another TSA employee saw him lifting items from passenger luggage. When officials turned to the security video, they got confirmation. According to prosecutors, the loot included gold diamond rings and sterling silver necklaces.

Now, Pepper faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is set for November, and the naughty ex-TSA official is expected to get a prison term of between six months and a year.

[photo by amandabhslater via Flickr]

Airport food nastier than airline food

And you thought airline food was nasty …

Airport restaurants have been spanked hundreds of times over the past year for food safety violations, according to a USA Today review of inspection records. Check it out – close to 800 restaurants in 10 airports had tuna and turkey sandwiches that weren’t kept cold enough, raw meat getting a little too chummy with ready-to-eat meals, rat droppings and kitchens that didn’t have soap for employee hand-washing.


Yea, it gets nastier. Forty-two percent of the 57 restaurants at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were found to have at least one “critical” violation each. At Reagan National Airport, it was even more disgusting: 77 percent of 35 restaurants. These were violations of a caliber that make the risk of illness common.

JFK, apparently, isn’t so bad. According to the New York City health department, “Restaurants at JFK have had relatively few problems with rodents in comparison to restaurants citywide.”

That’s one hell of a vote of confidence!

[Photo by asplosh via Flickr]

He’s baaaack: Determined, 10-year-old runaway nabbed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

We’ve written about Semaj Booker before. He was the 9-year-old kid last year who managed to talk his way onto two flights and make it all the way from Seattle-Tacoma to Texas. A few days before the incident, Booker had stolen a car and allegedly led police on a high speed pursuit.

Well, Booker, now 10, has just been nabbed again.

The Associated Press is reporting that Booker talked his way past Transportation Security Administration workers at Sea-Tac yesterday before being apprehended at the gate as he tried to board a Southwest Airline flight to Sacramento.

This happened around 6:30 a.m.; Booker had been reported missing by his mother since 3 a.m.

Investigators are questioning how he was able to get through security without presenting a valid boarding pass.

Right now, police have turned the matter over to the local justice department, who is deciding what, if any, new charges need to be brought (he’d been charged in the stolen car incident, but was not sent to juvenile detention).

All I have is man, this kid must really want to leave Tacoma.