A former Delta Air Lines worker and a friend were cleared of charges for stealing a missing bag containing more than $258,000 on Monday.
It took less than an hour for the Brooklyn Federal Court jury to come up with a not-guilty verdict on 40-year-old Quincy Thorpe and 32-year-old Asuquo Okon. Okon and Thorpe would’ve faced 10 years in prison if convicted.
Missing Bag of Cash
The incident happened on September 2019, when eight bags containing US and foreign currency were loaded on Delta Flight 1225 from Kennedy Airport to Florida. The money was a cash shipment from a cruise ship. Working as baggage handler, Thorpe was in charge of loading the eight bags. However, one bag was missing.
Investigators accused Thorpe and Okon of stealing and swapping the bag containing more than $258,000. Prosecutors accused Okon of smuggling the money out of JFK Airport. Based on court documents, Okon “intentionally and unlawfully” took “a stolen bag containing United States and foreign currency of approximately $258,205 in value.” The prosecutor also said that Okon then drove Thorpe to finish his shift at the airport.
Five days after the incident, the FBI arrested the men and found documents inside the car including a Delta waybill.
Prosecutors used a grainy surveillance video showing Thorpe loading the bags of cash into Delta Flight 1225. According to the prosecutors, Thorpe and Okon “made a mistake” leaving evidence in their getaway vehicle. However, this wasn’t enough to convince the jury.
Thorpe’s lawyer Lonnie Hart Jr. said, “The videos worked against them. It just didn’t show what they claimed that the video showed.” He added, “It’s just simply none of those videos showed any criminal act being committed, none. Period.”
Used as a Scapegoat?
Thorpe became a suspect after his co-workers said that he went home sick around the same time the bag was missing. Over the next two days, Thorpe called Delta Ground Services saying that he couldn’t make it to work.
Hart claims that Delta needed a “scapegoat for someone else’s incompetence.” He said, “Someone has to pay for it and the convenient person in this case is my client.”
After Thorpe was suspended, Delta released a statement: “The alleged actions of this employee are unacceptable and in no way reflect the professionalism and values we expect from Delta team members.”