|TSA Set to Fire 25 NJ Employees|
|By RICHARD ESPOSITO, LEE FERRAN (@leeferran) , MEGAN CHUCHMACH (@megcourtney) and RANDY KREIDER (@RandyKreider)||Oct 19, 2012, 12:12 PM|
The Transportation Security Administration announced today that it has proposed to fire 25 of its employees and to suspend another 19 at Newark International Airport for alleged misconduct.
A TSA official told ABC News the wrongdoing was related to "individuals violating standard operating procedures for screening checked bags at one of the airport's 25 baggage screening rooms." Another TSA source said the alleged offenses included sleeping on the job and failing to perform continuous random screening process.
The announcement comes days after security screeners at the airport were criticized in an internal TSA document that alleged startling, large-scale security failures. The document was reported by New Jersey's Star Ledger.
However, the TSA official referred ABC News to another Star Ledger story, which said the proposed firings had nothing to do with the recent TSA internal report, but were the culmination of a year-long internal investigation sparked by an alleged theft by a TSA officer.
The TSA said in a statement that it "has a zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace" and the agency "takes prompt and appropriate action with any employee who does not follow our procedures and engages in misconduct."
ABC News Investigates TSA Thefts
Last month an country-wide ABC News investigation revealed that 382 TSA officers have been fired since the TSA was formed a decade ago for allegedly stealing from passengers. As part of the investigation, ABC News tracked an iPad that was purposefully left behind at an airport security checkpoint in Orlando to the home of a TSA agent.
Another former TSA employee, Pythias Brown, served three years in prison for theft and said he stole approximately $800,000 worth of cash and merchandise from travelers before he was caught.
"It was very commonplace, very," Brown told ABC News. Brown was a former employee at Newark International. "It was very convenient to steal… [TSA agents] didn't think it was okay, but they did it and said, 'I don't care. They ain't paying me. They're treating me wrong.' But when people started seeing they could profit off of it, then it became massive."
In response to ABC News' original report that echoed its statement today, the TSA provided a statement that said it has a "zero tolerance" policy towards theft and that the number of officers fired "represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed" by the TSA.