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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 15, 2006

Airport screener jailed for stealing

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Reporter

A former Transportation Security Administration screener was sentenced to three months in jail yesterday for stealing $16,000 from luggage at the Moloka'i airport this year.

Michael Gomes, who was fired after authorities learned of the theft, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor to serve three years of supervisory release after he finishes his jail term at the Federal Detention Center near Honolulu International Airport.

Gomes, 32, pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking the money from the backpack of a visitor on Feb. 6.

"I hope this sends a message to the public that they can trust the government will pursue these cases and when they travel, they can be assured that their luggage won't be rifled through and items stolen," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren Ching, who handled the case.

Two other former TSA employees have also been prosecuted for taking items from luggage. Benny Arcano and Christopher Cardona admitted stealing yen worth thousands of dollars from Japanese tourists in 2004 and 2005.

The two pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.