A 46-year-old former Transportation Security Administration officer pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of extortion and receipt of a bribe.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, the Palm Beach Gardens resident admitted to accepting cash in exchange for allowing illegal prescription painkillers to pass through airport security without detection.
Authorities claim the man accepted cash from a trafficker to guarantee that he would not be detained by TSA as he made his way through airport security carrying oxycodone pills while en route to Connecticut. He was one of 20 people arrested last year following an investigation by a Drug Enforcement Administration task force.
The man allegedly accepted $500 from the trafficker last year on four separate occasions while employed as a TSA officer at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The trafficker was apparently working with authorities.
The man is scheduled to be sentenced on July 5.
The man faces up to 20 years in prison for the extortion count and another possible 15 years on the bribe count.
Extortion is classified as a white collar crime, often penalized with automatic incarceration. A person charged with extortion is accused of acquiring money, goods, services or a desired outcome from another through the use of threats or violence. There are several offenses that are categorized under the crime of extortion, including:
If a public servant receives money that is not owed to them legally, this is considered extortion. Extortion is a federal crime, and therefore taken quite seriously. A conviction for extortion can result in a number of criminal penalties, including prison time, fines, probation, parole and possibly restitution to the victim. Penalties can vary depending on the severity of the crime and the defendant’s criminal record. It is important to be aware that even the attempt to commit extortion can result in criminal charges carrying potential jail time.
As former prosecutors, the Florida Extortion Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have the background needed to aggressively defend extortion charges in both state and federal court. Defending these charges often requires gathering physical evidence to establish the defendant’s true character as well as expert and witness testimony. To be able to deliver a strong defense, early preparation and a thorough investigation into the facts of the case needs to be conducted as soon as possible. Early intervention is critical when facing extortion charges.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with extortion anywhere in the state of Florida, contact the South Florida Extortion Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or reach us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).