Newark airport customs officers accused of assaulting co-workers

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Three Customs and Border Protection officers were arrested Wednesday morning and charged with assaulting two fellow officers at Newark Liberty International Airport, acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced in a press release.

Tito Catota, 38, of Lyndhurst; Parmenio I. Perez, 40, of Hawthorne; and Michael A. Papagni, 32, of Staten Island, are charged with forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating and interfering with two fellow CBP officers while they were on duty.

According to the complaint, within the first two weeks that the first victim worked as part of the Passenger Enforcement Rover Team - a CBP specialized unit - Papagni allegedly told the victim that the PERT office table was known as the “rape table” and threatened the victim that he would get him on it.

CLICK HERE to read the full complaint (WARNING: Contains graphic content)

The complaint stated that in January while the victim was retrieving a document related to a prior drug seizure, the lights were shut off in the PERT office. Papagni, Catota and another officer identified in the complaint as “CBPO 3” then allegedly grabbed the victim’s arms and legs and threw him on top of the PERT office table. While Papagni, Catota and CBPO 3 held him down, Perez got on top of the victim’s mid-section and moved in a motion that simulated a sex act, according to the complaint.

The victim unsuccessfully attempted to push Perez off his body, but was released when Perez eventually got off of the victim, the complaint said.

The second victim reported a similar scenario taking place in November 2016. According to the complaint, the second victim went to the PERT office to speak with fellow officers and found himself locked inside the office. 

Catota, Papagni and Perez then grabbed the victim and threw him on his side on the PERT office table. The complaint stated that while two of the defendants held the victim down on the table, the other defendant got on top of the victim and moved in a motion that simulated a sex act. The victim struggled to get free until Catota, Papagni and Perez eventually released him, the complaint said.

The three men each appeared before a judge Wednesday afternoon and were released on bail.

They could face up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

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