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Cargo workers plead guilty to stealing from packages for troops
San Francisco Chronicle


December 01, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO - Fifteen cargo handlers at San Francisco International Airport have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to steal laptop computers, DVD players and other valuables from packages addressed to U.S. troops in Okinawa.

The thefts occurred between November 2003 and April 2005 and amounted to about $200,000 worth of merchandise, said U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan's office.

Prosecutors said the cargo handlers, after reading customs declarations that listed the contents and value of each package, removed the items and retaped the packages before sending them.

More than 570 military personnel and their families reported items missing from their shipments, prosecutors said. Common targets included digital cameras, DVD players and jewelry. About 60 percent of the packages were insured, said Luke Macaulay, a spokesman for Ryan.

The defendants worked for Aeroground, which handles cargo for a number of airlines. Authorities said the company cooperated with the investigation.

The 15 employees pleaded guilty during the past two weeks; a 16th defendant is believed to be in the Philippines, according to prosecutors.



(Distributed to subscribers by Scripps Howard News Service,

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