Newark airport screener charged in theft of cash

NEWARK - Federal authorities say a security screening supervisor stole as much as $700 a day from travelers passing through his checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Michale Arato, 41, of Ewing, was arrested yesterday following a five-week federal investigation.

Investigators say Arato also accepted kickbacks and bribes from a co-worker who also stole cash from passengers' bags. That person, who was not named, has been cooperating with the federal investigation.

"If I find an envelope, I'm taking it. I swear to my kids," said the screener, Michael Arato, according to a criminal complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Newark.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Arato and the "co-schemer" targeted non-English-speaking victims, particularly women returning to India on a daily flight from Newark.

According to the complaint, Arato is charged with accepting bribes, conspiring to commit theft and three counts of theft by a government employee. Arato is scheduled to appear today before United States Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp in Newark federal court.

Click here to view the full federal criminal complaint

AP wires contributed to this report.

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