Customs agent admits to stealing $18,700 during Florida airport screenings

Customs agent admits to stealing $18,700 during Florida airport screenings

A man who was working as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent in Florida pleaded guilty this week to stealing about $18,700 in cash from arriving fliers during airport screenings.

According to a plea agreement, William Joseph Timothy, 43, stole from 18 passengers between mid-2023 and January of this year while on duty at Naples Airport. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Naples Airport, which calls itself “The Best Little Airport in the Country,” does not have commercial airline service but - alongside flight schools and sightseeing tours - hosts wealthier clientele taking private charters. With the Caribbean close by, many flights are international and necessitate border enforcement and customs screenings.

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigated Timothy’s case and uncovered 17 total incidents, including one involving two passengers. In a criminal complaint filed in January, Senior Special Agent Sapphia Small outlined one theft caught on camera.

In May 2023, video surveillance footage showed, Timothy conducted a border and currency inspection for a passenger who had traveled to Naples on a private aircraft from the Bahamas. Footage showed the passenger handing over his cash to Timothy, who, while counting it, set aside about $2,200 worth of $100 bills and covered them up with customs declarations forms.

After the passenger departed, Timothy picked up the forms and the concealed cash and walked away, according to the complaint. The passenger realized afterward their cash was missing.

Timothy went on to steal at least $2,000 from passengers on three more occasions, according to court documents, and at least $1,000 from six others.

Timothy pleaded guilty Tuesday to converting property of another as an officer or employee of the United States. As part of the plea agreement, he also agreed to pay “full restitution” to victims and resign immediately from the CBP, the U.S. attorney’s office for Middle Florida said.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

“Mr. Timothy is very remorseful, and has accepted responsibility for the actions alleged,” Douglas Molloy, Timothy’s defense attorney, wrote to The Washington Post in a statement. “It is not appropriate for me to comment further until his sentencing.”

CBP did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Naples Airport served more than 200,000 passengers in fiscal year 2023, according to the Naples Airport Authority. Southwest Florida International Airport, the region’s commercial hub, last year served more than 10 million.

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