Air-cargo Handler Fined $1M Over Bomb Screenings

Published February 8, 2012 9:27PM (EST)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A company that handles air cargo has agreed to pay a $1 million fine after investigators found that some of its workers failed to perform explosives screenings on all cargo destined for passenger planes at Indianapolis' airport, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Prosecutors said OHL Solutions Inc., which formerly did business as ActivAir Inc., "engaged in a systemic pattern of record-keeping violations by failing to properly screen for explosives" in all air cargo, as was required under the New York-based firm's security program.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said the company's screening failures involved cargo that its workers handled before January 2010 at the company's facility at Indianapolis International Airport. That facility closed in February 2011.

Investigators found that some of the company's workers put stickers on cargo indicating an item had been screened when in fact it had not been. Prosecutors said the workers also falsified records to cover their actions.

"When it comes to national security, there is no room for error, and we have no tolerance for shortcuts," Hogsett said in a statement.

He said the fine is the largest regulatory fine ever assessed by the Transportation Security Administration against a cargo entity for intentionally violating the agency's security requirements.

Frank Eichler, OHL Solutions' vice president and general counsel, said in a statement that the company "has acknowledged the serious nature of the misconduct that occurred in its Indianapolis branch office" and has fully cooperated with investigators. He said the company has "accepted full responsibility for the actions of its employees."

"ActivAir's management recognizes the importance of TSA security measures and has taken decisive action to prevent the recurrence of the compliance failures discovered at its Indianapolis branch office," Eichler said in his statement.

As a result of the federal investigation, three Indianapolis residents have agreed to plead guilty charges of conspiracy to commit federal reporting and record-keeping violations, Hogsett said. U.S. attorney's office spokesman Tim Horty said all three men were terminated by the company as a result of their actions.

Hogsett said the case "sends a strong message that premeditated skirting of TSA security measures can lead to serious consequences for both individual employees and the corporations that employ them."

By Salon Staff

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