TSA Must Give Records to Woman It Prosecuted

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – The Transportation Security Administration improperly withheld certain records from a couple who says the agency smeared them for reporting misconduct.
     Nancy Pellegrino and Harry Waldman’s ordeal with the TSA dates back to their arrival at Philadelphia International Airport’s security checkpoint on July 29, 2006.
     Business consultants on their way home to Florida, the married couple claimed that Pellegrino became concerned that a transportation security officer was rough-handling her luggage and was being disrespectful.
     Things allegedly got worse for Pellegrino when she requested a private search and then complained that the new officer was planning to touch her things with a used pair of gloves.
     In the private screening room, Pellegrino claims that she watched this officer wreck her property and otherwise treat the belongings disrespectfully.
     When Pellegrino informed the officers that she would report their mistreatment to TSA superiors, the officers threatened her, according to an amended version of the couple’s complaint.
     Pellegrino says she was repacking her bags with her arthritic hands when an officer approached her and said she was being re-detained.
     The couple ultimately learned that the officers had accused Pellegrino of assault, saying she had struck officers with her suitcases, making one fall to the floor.
     With the officers intent on pressing charges, Pellegrino says she was led out of the airport in handcuffs, then held in horrific conditions, according to the complaint.
     In addition to the felony charges, including counts of making terroristic threats, Pellegrino says the TSA told her it was initiating a civil action enforcement and would seek a civil penalty.
     Pellegrino was ultimately acquitted after a 2008 trial in Philadelphia on the charges two counts of simple assault and two counts of instrumentality of a crime, according to the complaint.
     When Pellegrino filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the TSA’s records about her, the agency identified 375 relevant pages and released 285 of those pages.
     U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner considered the withheld 90 pages in chambers and called on the agency Wednesday to release two of those documents.
     Rejecting the agency’s claims that it need not produce a cover sheet to a document it already handed over, Joyner said that the latter two pieces of information are not exempt from production “however slight their value may be.”
     The TSA had also submitted an affidavit in support of its claim that it conducted an adequate search.
     Joyner found this affidavit insufficient, however, and called on the agency to file a more detailed version.

%d bloggers like this: