Ex-luggage screener charged with theft




Gilberto Rivera, 50, of Kissimmee was charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property, police Capt. Paul Rooney said.

Rooney said Rivera confessed Monday to stealing two Southwest Airlines gift cards worth $400 and a roll of quarters valued at $10 from a passenger's bag while screening luggage April 11.

Rivera, reached at his home Tuesday, would not comment on his arrest and would not give out the name of his lawyer.

Carole Lefferts, 61, of Oakdale, N.Y., called police Aug. 10 to report that the gift cards and quarters were missing from her suitcase after she traveled from Orlando to Islip, N.Y., in April, according to the police report.

She said she had waited to report the theft because she wanted to make sure she hadn't left the gift cards and the coins -- state quarters she was collecting for her grandchildren -- at her home in Florida.

"We knew that the TSA [inspection] cards were in the luggage, so we knew somebody had been in the luggage," Lefferts said. "We didn't want to start pointing fingers until we went back to Florida, to make sure we hadn't left them there."

On the day Rivera was fired by TSA, the agency also suspended two other officers. Both of those suspended officers have since left the agency, said Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokeswoman.

"We place a special trust and confidence in our screening officers. We take these allegations and charges very seriously, and we'll work closely with our partners in law enforcement," Koshetz said.

Rooney said he does not expect any more arrests in the case.


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