July 24 2012 – LawFuel.com – Law News Daily –
LOS ANGELES – Two people who were employed as transportation security officers at Los Angeles International Airport – and a third person who allegedly smuggled marijuana to Boston – were charged today with conspiring to pay bribes to the employees of the Transportation Security Administration.
The three defendants have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in plea agreements that were also filed this morning in United States District Court. Two other drug couriers previously agreed to plead guilty in this case, meaning that five defendants have now been charged and agreed to plead guilty in this investigation.
The three defendants charged today are:
Dianna Perez, 28, of Inglewood, who was terminated as a TSA employee last October;
Randy Littlefield, 29, of Paramount, who resigned from TSA last October; and
Millage Peaks, 24, of Los Angeles, who initiated the bribery scheme when he offered Perez money to allow narcotics-laden luggage to be passed through security checkpoints.
The other two defendants who agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in plea agreements filed July 2 are:
Charles Hicks, also known as “Smoke,” 24, of Culver City ; and
Andrew Russel Welter, also known as “Drew,” 25, of Fontana.
All five defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court on August 14.
According to court documents, the conspiracy between the drug couriers and the TSA employees began November 2010. “Peaks offered to pay coconspirator Perez a bribe fee of approximately $500 for each bag containing marijuana that coconspirator Perez cleared through airport security for the drug couriers,” according to the statement of facts contained in the five plea agreements.
“Over the course of the next year, conspirator Perez used her position with TSA to help the drug couriers circumvent airport security on approximately nine occasions,” the statement of facts continues. “She did this a number of ways. First, she would instruct the drug couriers how to pack the marijuana so it would not trigger alarms on TSA’s explosive detection system. Coconspirator Perez would also personally screen the bags using TSA’s explosive detection system. Finally, if a bag did alarm, coconspirator Perez would manually screen the bag, and then clear it.”
Littlefield “cleared” bags on at least two occasions in exchange for $200 that was to be paid by Perez, according to the plea agreements.
The charge of conspiracy carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
The case against Perez, Littlefield and the drug couriers is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received assistance from the Los Angeles Airport Police and the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General.
In an unrelated case filed by the United States Attorney’s Office in April, two then-TSA screeners who worked at LAX, two former TSA screeners and three alleged drug couriers were indicted on narcotics trafficking and bribery charges for allegedly taking cash payments to allow large shipments of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana to pass through the X-ray machines at security checkpoints (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2012/051.html). The seven defendants in this case are currently scheduled to go on trial on February 12, 2013.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Meghan A. Blanco
Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section
Release No. 12-097