Former TSA worker claims he was wrongly fired

(WMC-TV) - A Memphis TSA agent convicted of stealing a passenger's laptop at Memphis International says the courts got it all wrong.

The former agent says he was actually being a Good Samaritan and feels the TSA singled him out.

"Something's got to be done because this ain't right," said Ricky German, the former TSA agent.

German was fired after working as a TSA agent at Memphis International Airport for eight and a half years.

"But the way they treated me, it's just like I'm serious like a rapist, like a common criminal," he said.

In December of last year, Memphis police say German was caught on camera taking a laptop that was left in baggage claim and hiding it under a vacant ticket counter, but German says he never stole anything.

"No, no such thing," he said "I don't even know how to operate a computer."

German says he waited until the end of his shift to notify an airport police officer.

"It had been in my possession for about an hour," German said. "He said 'You've got it?' I said 'Yes, I've got it' and I showed him where it was."

The computer was returned to its owner that same night.

"Six weeks later I'm being handcuffed," German said.

Memphis police charged him with theft of property and U.S. Marshals followed up with an arrest warrant.

"They put shackles on my legs, my waist and my hands and made me walk inside the court," he said.

The federal charges were serious - a felony count for lying to a federal agency, misdemeanor charges of theft and a civil rights violation.

"When federal laws are broken, that is when we get involved," said U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton, III.

Stanton said his office is aggressive in pursuing those who violate the public's trust.

"We put the proof on and again, the decision was made by Mr. German's peers, and he was found guilty on all three counts charged," Stanton said.

German told his story from the witness stand, but it couldn't compete with the incriminating evidence of him and the computer caught on camera.

"It was only lost for about an hour and seven minutes," he said.

German admits that TSA rules require him to immediately report forgotten items to a supervisor or airport police, something he did not do.

But part of German's complaint with the TSA is that they fired him before his federal trial. He said other TSA agents have done worse and they're still on the job."

TSA employee Richard Banks, III, was caught bringing a loaded gun to work in August and according to the TSA was allowed to keep his job.

German describes other incidents involving Memphis agents, including an instance when an agent accidentally sprayed pepper spray at the checkpoint which caused it to be evacuated.

"He's still working with TSA," said German.

German said another employee left his post when he saw his girlfriend with another man.

"He's still working there," German said. "He got a 14 day suspension."

Privacy laws prevent the TSA from confirming those incidents, but they did confirm both men are still employed.

TSA does not have the power to arrest anyone and only law enforcement decides whether criminal charges are filed, but German accuses his former employer of picking and choosing which stories they want the public to hear.

"TSA got this image of themselves. They don't want to be tarnished, but you don't have the right to tarnish your employees like that either," he said. "I mean I don't think a bank robber gets this kind of coverage, I don't think a murderer gets this type of coverage."

Ricky German will be sentenced January 5. He could get probation or up to seven years behind bars.

German is asking for a federal investigation on how TSA management handled the incident.

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