What to Know
- 2nd arrest has been made in connection with theft of $250,000 in cash that apparently vanished from John F. Kennedy Airport, prosecutors say
- The money was being transferred onto a flight en route to Florida, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of NY
- Emmanuel Asuquo Okon, of Queens, was arrested during the weekend and was subsequently released on $80,000, prosecutors said Monday
A second arrest has been made in connection with theft of $250,000 in cash that apparently vanished from John F. Kennedy Airport as it was being transferred onto a flight en route to Florida, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Emmanuel Asuquo Okon, of Springfield Garden, Queens, was arrested during the weekend and was subsequently released on $80,000, prosecutors said Monday.
The complaint alleges that “Okon knowingly did embezzle, steal, and unlawfully take, carry away and conceal, and by fraud and deception obtained from a vehicle and from an aircraft” the money at the center of the case.
The complaint alleges the Okon is a friend of the Delta Airlines employee, identified as Quincy Thorpe, who was taken into custody by the FBI at his New York City home early Thursday in connection to the same case.
Thorpe, a baggage handler for Delta, was allegedly responsible for scanning and loading the eight bags onto the plane, but when the plane landed in Florida, the security company realized one of the bags was missing.
Thorpe was allegedly seen on surveillance footage putting all the bags on the plane — except for one, which he did not scan and placed in a vehicle and drove off with, the complaint says.
The following two days, Thorpe called in sick to work. Police arrested him on Thursday, News 4 previously reported.
Thorpe appeared in federal court in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon, where a friend agreed to pay his $80,000 bond. After coming out of court, Thorpe repeatedly said "I'm innocent."
The bag of money, which included about $258,200 in both U.S. and foreign currency, has not been recovered, a source previously told News 4.
“My client denies the charges and we are looking forward to our day in court,” said attorney Lonnie Hart outside of the Queen court. As for the unscheduled day off right after the money was allegedly stolen, Hart called that a coincidence.
"He had doctors appointments that’s why he was out of work."
In a previous statement to NBC New York, Delta called Thorpe's alleged actions "unacceptable and in no way reflect the professionalism and values we expect from Delta team members."
"We are taking this situation very seriously and working directly with authorities on their investigation as well as conducting an internal investigation of our own," the statement read.
According to the complaint against Okon, his domestic partner owns a blue Nissan Sentra that was seen on airport surveillance at an unsecured area, pulling behind the Delta Airlines van that Thorpe allegedly was in along with the bag. Minutes later, the van and the Nissan left at the same time, and security surveillance showed that Thorpe was no longer in the van, but was seen a short time later entering Terminal 2 using his security identification.
The complaint goes on to say that on Sunday, the Nissan was located at Okon’s domestic partner’s home and a search of the vehicle was conducted. During the search, according to the complaint, an envelope containing a transfer manifest belonging to the security company and a Delta Air Waybill for the Sept. 24 flight were found.
Okon has never been employed by the security company or Delta Airlines, the complaint claims.
According to Okon's defense attorney, Douglas Rankin, his client has no criminal record. He went on to say that the allegations made against his 32-year-old client in the five-page felony complaint are untrue.
Rankin said that the allegations brought forth "are completely circumstantial" and they look forward to having the complaint dismissed.
Both the Port Authority and the FBI had been investigating the missing cash. Two officials said the cash shipment was part of a large delivery apparently made from an armored car company to the airport. Even after searches of Thorpe's home and car, officials are not sure where the money has gone.
Past JFK heists have made headlines including the 1978 Lufthansa heist where nearly $6 million was stolen by members and associates of the Lucchese crime family. In 2003, a masked gunman hijacked an armored car and made off with over $2 million.