TSA Hires Felon & Forces Airport To Issue Security Badge

5/2/2010 –TSA Hires Felon & Forces Airport To Issue Security Badge

It appears the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has placed Richmond (VA) International Airport (RIC) in a troubling situation regarding the issuing of a security access badge to a convicted felon … and that the TSA’s own policy for criminal background checks of Transportation Security Officers (TSO) has a gaping loop hole that has allowed this situation to arise.

Richmond International Airport (RIC) like many airports controls the security badges issued to those with access to secure areas of their airport. Like most airports, RIC will not issue a secure area badge to those convicted of a felony or convicted of ‘disqualifying crimes’ … unless of course they are forced to issue a security badge by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) & Transportation Security Administration.

This problem begs the following question … should the TSA employ someone convicted of Felony Robbery within the past 10 years?

Now that I have your attention…let’s get to the details here.

The TSA has recently hired a front line Transportation Security Officer who at the age of 17 committed felony robbery. Although a minor at the time of the offense, this person was convicted of the crime when they were 18, thus they were convicted as an adult and their records were not sealed. The TSA claims that since the crime occurred when the person was a minor it is not disqualifying crime … however they served their entire felony sentence as an adult and they have direct access to passenger’s personal property.

At the time the TSA TSO submitted their employment application, and again at the time they were hired, they failed to disclose their felony conviction to the TSA. All applicants are required to disclose a felony conviction within the past 10 years, as per FAR 108.33(c)(5). (*FAR 108.33(c)(5) has been replaced by 49 CFR Part 1542, I was directed to an outdated law by the FAA at the time I was originally seeking the correct regulations*)

Upon being hired by the TSA the TSO was required to submit to a routine background check by the Capital Region Airport Commission to be issued a secure area display badge. The TSA TSO failed to disclose their felony conviction, as required in the security badge application process, to the Airport Commission. The background search discovered the conviction and RIC refused to issue a security badge.

Following the Capital Region Airport Commission’s discovery of the undisclosed criminal history the TSA stood behind their Transportation Security Officer, rather this fire them, and further demanded that RIC issue a security badge to the TSO.

The TSA’s demand that a badge be issued to this TSA Officer is disturbing on a number of levels, but two really stand out in this situation.

1) RIC’s security badging policy is a Transportation Security Administration approved security program. This program expressly prohibits issuing security badges to people convicted of any disqualifying crimes.

2) The TSA policy for criminal background checks at time of employment, as dictated by FAR 108.33 (c)(5) leaves holes for felons to slip through. In this policy, those applying for jobs must disclose felony convictions in the past 10 years, however criminal background checks are only conducted if there are specific deficiencies in the applicants employment history.  This means someone can easily create a faux job history to cover their felony convictions and be hired by the TSA.

FAR 108.33(2) Is even a bigger loop hole, stating that felony conviction must not disclose conviction by reason of insanity, or espionage, murder, rape, interfering with an in-flight crew, extortion, sedition…but it does include armed robbery…but not “robbery.” Felony convictions not on the list and over 10 years old may not disqualify applicants from being employed by the TSA as a TSO.

(This info can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, Volume 2, Revised Jan 1, 2001, CITE 14CFR108.33, between pages 340-344)

To make matters worse for the TSA, rather than admit its error, the TSA’s Principal Deputy Chief Counsel, Margot F. Bester, who has been with the TSA since 2002, is quoted as stating the following when confronted with the agency hiring convicted felons:

Our  [transportation security officers] are highly motivated and talented individuals who have come from law enforcement, the military, the business community or out of retirement following 9/11 to make air travel secure for the American people”

While Ms. Bester may be correct about many of the TSA TSO’s, clearly in this case the Agency has hired a convicted felon. The TSA must admit what happened, since it has already been discovered and rather than follow its usual course of action, stonewalling the outside world and facing no oversight penalties, it should handle the situation properly.

The system in which travelers must place their trust to protect them is not working.

When will the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration start focusing on real solutions to real problems in passengers’ transportation security? When will the Transportation Security Administration begin to at least follow its own guidelines?

…also would it be so hard for the  TSA to lose its  RMA tone with those it should be partnering with. What is RMA you ask? “Respect My Authority

Happy Flying!


  1. Perhaps it wasn’t a conviction but a charge, most times after a plea arrangement that felony charge would be reduced to a misdemeanor conviction following a successful completion of probation. Background checks show charges not just convictions perhaps something has been misconstrued by whoever made this information public, hence the TSA not terminating his employment. If it was a misdemeanor and not a felony conviction it wouldn’t be required of him to disclose. Personally I feel you seem a little bit ignorant on the subject without knowing all of the facts, this is the reason why things need to change in America, theres so many goodhearted people that end up in bad situations and make mistakes, then end up with ruined lives after paying for those mistakes. Ive made mistakes and learned from it, now I have a family to support and can’t because you pay for the crime your whole life not just once. Someone’s background check is not always who they are, it does not have a list of motives and reasoning for why they did what they did or anything else relevant to someone’s personality. There’s too much judging of books by reading just the cover and too much assumption without complete facts.

  2. I have an aggravated dui felony can this be a problem at the airport had interview for cabin cleaner i get called next week for prints

  3. To Fish, so what that he lied, he would NOT have got the TSA job had he told the truth, he was a kid when he commited his crime, am sure he was told it was sealed ot should have ben and you do NOT have to disclose it nor an expungemnt or Pardon,
    How do we expect anyone with even a misdemeaner or any violation on thier record to get a decent job and to not commit more crimes because they can’t support themselves no less a family.
    I say YAY to Ban the Box and to TSA for allwoing thgis young man to keep his job @ the TSA, his crime was not on the list of disqualifying offenses anyway, geez get a life Fsh you keep writing the same crap about him lying, deal with it already, hope he is still with TSA and is doing well today

  4. TSA is a JOKE. They use the “patriot act to violate our rights “legally” AND to build their their ineffective, invasive, expensive program. Some of you may be thinking “It’s safer”… There is NO evidence that this is true. In fact, violating peoples rights and using your TSA job to excuse criminal acts only adds to its safety problem. SO you go to take a trip and you go through so many TSA screening areas but, the second you bought your ticket you were marked. So with layovers you get semi strip searched 3 times. Stealing your time and obviously the person is not a terrorist. The reason it was made. They get attitudes like little hood rats with fake power and kick people out for really dumb personal issues. When you read the situation in the reports, witnesses, camera. USUALLY TSA is lying. Like being a smartass to a stranger(tsa) IS a reason to ruin your trip, arrest you, or get their jollies. Can you imagine that treatment from other humans? Or even arresting you for your tone. That’s not illegal, freedom of speech.(In their their thin skinned minds view) for the 7-11 worker being a POS. Weird. They play the safety lie but NOTHING is safer, just way more expensive and time consuming. Flying isn’t as fun at all now. Over paranoia. The deal i all they had to do was put a door on the plane between the cock pit and the rest of the plane. PROBLEM SOLVED. Easy and CHEAP and more effective. Instead we get lame ass TSA pricks pretending they are reputable and powerful. ANY MORON can put a bomb in a bus or car/van, drone, etc. They don’t need a plane. just a passport or American made. Did we outlaw vans after Oklahoma? NO. Of course not. But planes… The same planes that crash more on their own . TSA isn’t worried about you. They just want a paycheck.I do NOT feel safer. The odds TSA will slip up and harm me somehow are higher than a hijacking. Some idiots think they get a bunch of virgins. For being evil in the name of.. WHO’s virgins? Not my kid. It’s also like the stewardesses and airline workers think they are God now. What terrorists have they even caught? They seem to be harassing “normal” Americans, old ladies and Moms… ha ha SO DUMB. All ground control needs is autopilot with deviated courses. Ground control contacts pilot. Pilot doesn’t answer. POOF ON star. But, with a door, who even needs onstar. an extra CHEAPER option. Then it’s as safe as a bus again. But, that makes sense. Spending 8 billion a year plus 2.50 a person TAX. What idiot had this brilliant idea.for some half wit to lie like they make a difference with a total attitude, power-trip going on “Calm down Sir/Ma’am”. Collecting a check. Really? WE PAY THEIR freek’n CHECKS. I trust them far less than avg Joe. I’ve seen no terrorists stopped or found. Only Americans (mostly) are being messed with. TSA started over 9/11 for TERRORISTS but instead they are playing crappy cop games. Busting people for pot and screwing with old people while Jets are falling out the Sky with REAL safety issues. INSTEAD OF having a small task force for Terrorist profiling and firing the sellouts that take a check to betray our rights like SELLOUTs.Traitors…. How embarrassing is that? Very, in my mind. TSA, YOU SUCK! and so does anyone supporting TSA instead of the American People by working there and not reporting yourselves. People gotta work but at what cost and to what end? I’ve seen youtube videos of TSA being inhuman to their guests. No wonder so many people think Bush called that shot (911) and not Bin Laden. It makes more sense that it was done to do the Patriot ACT because government gets off on stripping away your rights.. They think they are smarter than you. You’re lil dummy puppets to them. Enjoy your flights COWARDS.

  5. This countries effort fyi deny ex- felons basic constitutional rights is appalling. Lose your right to vote out politicians who want to keep you down forever. “Treason and other crimes” was words used by the Supreme Court in upholding the convicted felon laws. “Posession of Marijuana” vs “High Treason”. And in one state it might even be legal. Yes, he should have disclosed it, he should have a second chance if he’s kept his life in offer. TSA seems to be a breath of fresh air. The guy can go through my baggage!

  6. This countries effort to deny ex-felons basic constitutional rights is appalling. Lose your right to vote out politicians who want to keep you down forever. “Treason and other crimes” were words used by the Supreme Court in upholding the convicted felon laws. “Posession of Marijuana” vs “High Treason”. And in one state it might even be legal. Yes, he should have disclosed it, he should have a second chance if he’s kept his life in order. TSA seems to be a breath of fresh air. The guy can go through my baggage!

  7. To be worried about a “convicted felon” who was basically a minor when the crime was committed, is pathetic. Everyone is all for forgiveness until it doesn’t float their agenda. Grow up, people. A mistake was made and now you want to label someone based on their past. Get over it. Your lives must be pretty boring to have to sit and make a big deal out of someone’s past. I literally hate people like this.

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