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Twenty Boston Airport Workers Charged in Federal Sweep; Accused of Lying to Get Jobs or Clearance

by Leslie Miller, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - Twenty workers at Logan International Airport, including six security screeners, were charged with lying to get their jobs or security badges.

The employees worked for six private companies at Logan, not the actual airport where the two hijacked planes that destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 originated.

None is suspected of terrorist activities, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said Wednesday.

"The hard lesson of Sept. 11 was that there is still more that could and should be done to tighten airport security and ensure the flying public's safety," Sullivan said.

Officials said the six security workers lied when they were hired by Argenbright Security. Argenbright lost its contract at Logan in November for security lapses, but another security company took over its operations and workers.

The remaining workers were with cleaning, hospitality or fuel companies; 15 face charges of being in the United States illegally.

The arrests came as part of a federal crackdown on airport workers.

Officials reviewed the backgrounds of 3,500 Logan employees who had clearance to be in secure areas, such as the runways, baggage areas and aircraft. Similar reviews have been conducted at other airports, including Salt Lake City, where 271 people were fired in December.

The 20 workers at Logan were charged with lying on their employment or security applications by giving false Social Security numbers or false alien registration cards, known as "green cards." It was not immediately known if the workers, who were jailed, had been fired by the companies.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the airport and issues the security badges, does not have the authority to verify Social Security numbers. State police have conducted background checks of employees of businesses that operate at Logan since 1987, said Massport spokesman Jose Juves.

"We did the maximum check permissible under the law with information made available to Massport," Juves said.

Federal aviation officials, who assumed control of security at all airports earlier this month, are moving to put Argenbright out of the airport security business altogether because of its poor security record.

Argenbright also staffed security checkpoints at the Newark, New Jersey, and Washington Dulles airports, where the other two planes hijacked Sept. 11 originated.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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