Logan Airport

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Twenty workers at Logan Airport charged for false identification


By Leslie Miller, Associated Press, 02/27/02

BOSTON -- Twenty people working at Logan International Airport were charged Wednesday with lying to get their jobs or security badges.

Samantha Martin, Sullivan's spokeswoman, said 15 people were taken into custody in a sweep Wednesday morning. Five more workers were expected to be in custody by the afternoon.

The security badges enabled the workers to have access to all areas of the airport, including terminals, baggage areas, screened passenger checkpoints and runways.

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon to announce details of the charges, which are part of an ongoing investigation to improve airport safety.

The employees work for private companies at Logan, not the airport itself. It was not immediately clear if all the workers faced the same charges.

The only related document immediately released was the complaint against Edgar B. Argueta, 28, of El Salvador, who was accused of using a fake alien registration card and a fraudulent social security number on his application for the all-access security pass. He worked for Precision Cleaning Co. Inc. The company did not immediately return a call for comment.

Argueta made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court to face charges of making false statements, fraudulent and misuse of documents and use of false social security number. He was being held pending a detention hearing next week.

His complaint did not say anything about whether he misused his security pass or breached security.

The ongoing review was sparked by a Social Security and Immigration and Naturalization Service audit that found a high number of airport laborers were using invalid numbers.

In December, 271 workers at Salt Lake City International Airport were fired after a federal investigation dubbed "Operation Safe Travel" revealed they'd lied to get their jobs and badges. A similar sweep also was done at the Las Vegas airport.

Security at Logan has been particularly in the spotlight because the two hijacked planes that destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 took off from there.

"This federal involvement strengthens the ability of airports around the country to weed out individuals that have misled the federal government," said Jose Juves, spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan.

State police have been conducting background checks of employees of businesses that operate at Logan since 1987, Juves said.

"We did the maximum check permissible under the law with information made available to Massport," he said.

Hundreds of people have been denied jobs because of the checks, which include a Massachusetts criminal history check and check of outstanding warrants, he said.

Martin said all 20 workers were expected to have initial appearances in U.S. District Court on Wednesday afternoon.
 
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