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More Corruption Alleged by Diane Kleiman
More Corruption Alleged by Diane Kleiman
The former agent, Diane Kleiman, says she refused to go along with the cover-up and was subsequently fired as a result.
- who was based at JFK International Airport
- says she
attempted to make officials within Customs
, as well as other federal agencies, aware of the alleged cover-up and the potential security risks it posed prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.
warnings were ignored.
Kleiman's case was recently accepted for investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Council
- an independent federal agency that is empowered to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged governmental misconduct and mismanagement.
"You allege that (your supervisor) took unfavorable personal actions against you in reprisal for engaging in whistleblower activity and refusing to provide false testimony before the grand jury," states a March 18 letter from the Office of Special Council to Kleiman.
"You also believe (your supervisor's) actions were motivated by discrimination on the bases of race, sex and religion.
"Based on the information you submitted, we have decided to refer your complaint for an investigation...." Janet Rapaport, spokesman for U.S. Customs
in New York, says the agency has no comment at this time on Kleiman's
case "since this is an open administrative matter that U.S. Customs
is looking into."
Kleiman, a former assistant district attorney in New York for six years, says in the spring of 1998 she decided to trade in her law books for street smarts in order to pursue her dream of becoming a special agent and to "fulfill her desire to serve her country.
After about 6 months of training for the special agents job in Georgia, Kleiman
was assigned to the U.S. Customs office at JFK International
According to Kleiman
, that's when her
dream became a nightmare.
"Immediately after arriving at JFK, I was called to a meeting by my supervisor," states Kleiman in a July 25, 2001, letter that she sent to the Office of Special Council (OSC).
"... The first comment that he
made to me was the following: 'Customs is like the Irish Mafia.
Our form of affirmative action is hiring an Italian, so understand what your place is in this agency.' This statement was made in regards to me being a female, a Jew and an attorney.
Things went downhill from there, according to Kleiman
Over the first few months of 1999, she
made a series of disclosures to her
supervisor that were met with harsh reactions.
In a complaint filed with OSC in November of 2001, Kleiman reveals that she reported to her supervisor at JFK the use of excessive force on a suspect, several incidents of improperly handled evidence, an office gambling operation involving payouts exceeding $5,000, and the fact that there was some $300,000 unaccounted for in a case involving a large cash seizure.
"When I raised my concerns with (my boss), I was told to shut up and was virtually told that if I didn't listen, I was finished," Kleiman
stated, in a recent interview with the Business Journal
Then, in February and March of 1999, Kleiman
ran up against a wall in terms of the alleged corruption within the JFK
According to her OSC
complaint, during that time period, she
began to work a case involving an American Airlines baggage handler, a non-citizen, who was caught twice within a few months attempting to smuggle about $30,000 in currency out of the country.
"This baggage handler makes minimum wage, and after interviewing him, I felt he
was engaging in criminal activity," Kleiman states in her OSC
"I reported this to (my supervisor) and recommended that either we cultivate this man as an informant and watch him, or report him to American Airlines security. (My supervisor) told me to keep my mouth shut and told me If I didn't, he
would make sure I was fired.
About a month later, in March of 1999, Kleiman states in her OSC complaint that, with the assistance of a DEA agent, she arrested a man attempting to smuggle 46.2 pounds of cocaine into the country.
The case involved a smuggling scheme whereby an American Airlines employee was allegedly being utilized to assist the smuggler to bypass airline and airport security.
"... The method used by the smugglers usually involved a second individual, who customarily was seated behind the courier," Kleiman states in her
July 2001 letter to OSC
"This second individual would most likely be an employee of (the airline) and would have a key to the gate at the airport.
According to DEA
, this was how the drugs could enter the country, bypassing a Customs
The former agent claims a lack of security and the failure by airlines to perform thorough employee background checks make these schemes possible to pull off.
Again, in this case, Kleiman's
boss allegedly told her
to withhold information.
"(My supervisor) ordered me to perjure my testimony before a grand jury because the defendant stated to me that he
had smuggled drugs into JFK
on prior occasions," Kleiman states in her OSC
"(He) wanted me to omit that information from the statement because it would look like Customs
wasn't doing its job, and it would embarrass the agency.
also wanted me to lie and state that I wasn't working with DEA
, because he
didn't want them to share credit....
also wanted me to omit the fact that an American Airlines employee was involved.
threatened that if I didn't comply, something bad would happen to my mother.
also stated he
would put retroactive evaluations in my file and have me fired.
And, according to Kleiman's OSC
complaint, that is exactly what happened.
After refusing to comply with her
supervisor's dictates, Kleiman
told the Business Journal
was pulled off the case and not allowed to appear before the grand jury.
By July of 1999, Kleiman
then filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint.
However, according to Kleiman
, all the background checks in the world will not protect the American public from potential harm if Customs management continues to cover-up information in order to bolster careers, protect agency turf, or to prevent the agency's image from being tarnished.
is not doing its job," Kleiman
told the Business Journal
"Anything that gets in the country goes through Customs
And people in the agency are not saying anything when they see problems, because they know if they rock the boat they will get fired, or possibly even killed.
Kleiman adds that in addition to filing an EEO complaint, she reported the alleged corruption and cover-ups by her supervisor to Customs Internal Affairs, the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York.
Those reports were made months prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
claims none of those agencies has done anything, to date, to address the problems at JFK
"It's not an issue of putting more money into the agency, or combining it with some other agency," Kleiman
said in her
interview with the Business Journal
"It's an issue of hiring highly qualified people who care.
That's the whole point.
Since 9/11, people have gone back to going about their lives like it never happened.
But it will happen again, unless something is changed.
And change may well be in the air.
case has caught the attention of U.S. Sen.
Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
office plans to launch a probe into Kleiman's
claims, according to an aide in the senator's office.
Don't rock the boat Former Customs agents Shelly and Kleiman are not alone in their efforts to blow the whistle on what they contend is a pattern of abuse within the U.S. Customs Service.
, who lives in New York City, has a slightly different take on Customs' woes - one tied to the events of Sept. 11.
told the Business Journal
is reminded of that "don't rock the boat" mentality every time she
looks into the hole in the ground that once was the World Trade Center
Well before the World Trade Center
was attacked, Kleiman claims she
"knew something bad like that was going to happen" because of the indifference she
encountered within the federal government in relation to the problems at Customs
"When that second jet came right over my apartment, I said (screw) Customs
," recalls Kleiman
, who lives a block and a half away from what is now ground zero.
Customs agent Access the ...
Customs agent Access the article, '9/11 security holes remain: former US Customs agent Diane Kleiman witnessed corruption and conspiracy in the front lines of our.
Customs agent Former Airport Customs Agent Sentenced (phillyBurbs. Customs Brokers and Other Customs Agents.Customs agent Old Customs House - People & Stories
- Customs Official.NewStandard: 10/25/98.It's Time to Reform US Customs.Customs Agent/Broker - Jobs for Freight/Shipping - Jobs New.
...Former Customs Agent Diane Kleiman confirms what earlier WorldNetDaily reports.
Diane Kleiman, Customs Agent
Diane Kleiman, Customs Agent, 06 March 2003
...Diane Kleiman, Customs AgentDiane Kleiman - US CustomsIn 1999, Diane Kleiman was a Special Agent with US Customs assigned to JFK International Airport.
While investigating a drug smuggling case she
observed and reported serious security breaches by airlines employees.Her
supervisors feared the information, if it got out, would embarrass the Agency.They ordered Kleiman
not to speak to anyone about what she
knew, and even to lie to the grand jury considering indictments in her
In February 1999 Kleiman
was assigned to an investigation of smuggling involving airlines employees.She
was referred to a Drug Enforcement Agency
(DEA) agent in Florida who informed her
had made numerous drug arrests in Florida over a two year period for smuggling with the aid of American Airlines employees.The DEA
agent informed her
that couriers would travel within a row or two of and American Airlines employee, usually baggage handlers.Airline employees can travel for free when seats are available so an airline employee who frequently traveled would not raise any suspicions.The airline employee would choose flights at obscure times whereby the planes would usually dock at more remote gates with less security.Upon arrival at the gate, the employee would escort the courier beyond the gate, bypassing Customs thus allowing the drugs to enter the country.The DEA
agent also informed her
of another way that drugs were smuggled into the country, whereby after he
passengers disembarked from the aircraft, the baggage handlers would remove the drugs from areas of the plane where they are secreted by airline employees prior to the plane leaving from its place origin.
Through information that the DEA agent had provided her
arrested an individual in March 1999 who was carrying 46.2 pounds of cocaine.Seated one row behind this courier was an American Airline employee with a key to the exit gate.
The defendant arrested made several statements to Kleiman
including that he
had smuggled drugs into JFK on previous occasions.After informing her
supervisor of the arrest, she
was told not to discuss the case with anyone.Several days later, she
was called into a meeting with her
supervisor who directed her
to perjure information on her
reports and to the Grand Jury.She
was directed to say that the defendant never made any statements and that this was the first time she
had smuggled drugs into JFK and to say that DEA
had nothing to do with the information she
had gathered leading to this arrest.She
further learned that Customs had released the airline employee without prosecuting him.
supervisor as to why they wanted to cover-up this information, she
was told that if this information got out, it would look like Customs wasn't doing its job in protecting US borders (because this defendant had admitted that he
had smuggled drugs before and was never caught by Customs) and that it would look like the DEA
was doing what Customs should have been doing.She
was further told by her
supervisor that he
was not going to let some "Jew bitch attorney" take credit for such a big case.When she
further refused, Kleiman
was threatened that Customs would place retroactive evaluations on her
file, fire her
, and further, that since her
mother lived alone, bad things could happen to her
, like she
could get killed.Kleiman
again refused and was fired shortly thereafter.After EEO conducted and investigation, it was discovered that Customs had falsified her
personnel file with bogus evaluations.Customs was unaware that she
had accidentally come upon her
file one evening and made copies of the file.
Six months prior to the attacks on September 11th, Kleiman
had warned the US Attorney's office
that a tragedy would occur because of the lack of security at American Airlines
told them that if they employees had such easy access to the planes, they could place bombs and weapons on the planes.She
further informed them that American Airlines
was not doing background checks on its employees and many were illegal aliens.Those employees were given ramp passes giving them access to the ramps from public streets.With this access, employees could do surveillance observing the schedules of when planes landed and departed, and observing the security in the airport.The US Attorney's Office
by saying they would look into it and never got back to her
.Customs fired Kleiman
for raising these issues.
Aside from the gross security breaches that Kleiman
also worked in a very hostile work environment.Her supervisor threatened her, altered her personnel file, encouraged her to commit perjury, drank alcohol at the office, and made highly offensive remarks about her gender, Jewish heritage, and the fact that she had been an attorney.
Agent Customs Special Us
Diane Kleiman, Customs Agent Diane Kleiman, Customs Agent.Diane Kleiman - US Customs.In 1999, Diane Kleiman was a Special Agent with US Customs assigned to JFK International Airport.
ICE Special Agent in Charge Named for Tucson Area ICE News Release.July 29, 2003.ICE Special Agent in Charge Named for Tucson Area.
In the News
Diane Kleiman says that a lack of security and the failure by airlines to perform thorough employee background checks facilitated illegal activities at the airport such as smuggling.She maintains that supervisors at Kennedy Airport covered up information about cases in order to bolster careers and protect the Customs agency.
...,Many of you have, no doubt, seen the New York Magazine article of June 2, 2003, concerning the allegations of former Customs Special Agent Diane Kleiman of rampant mismanagement, malfeasance, sexism and anti-Semitism in the management of this office,, Walker stated in the memo. ,While Ms. Kleiman has sought whistleblower status by attempting to contort these allegations (which remain unfounded) into issues impacting national security, I wanted you, the work force of this office, to understand that none of these allegations have any merit.,
...Kleiman, a former assistant district attorney in New York City for six years, decided to make a move to Customs in the spring of 1998 in order to become a special agent.She began working at Kennedy Airport in December 1998.
Over the first few months of 1999,she
made a series of disclosures to her
supervisor that she
I says were met with harsh reactions.In a complaint filed with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in November 2001, Kleiman said she reported to her supervisor at JFK the use of excessive force on a suspect, several incidents of improperly handled evidence, an office gambling operation involving payouts exceeding $5,000, and approximately $300,000 being unaccounted for in a case involving a large cash seizure.She
stated that in late November 2002, more than a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some 120 current and former workers who had been issued security clearances at La Guardia or Kennedy airports were arrested or facing arrest.
In June 1999, Kleiman
then filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint, after having attempted to file such I complaints unsuccessfully while employed at JFK
maintained.Walker stated that incidents he
had documented figured into the decision-making process to dismiss Kleiman
.Among them were untruthfulness, misuse ofgovernment issued property, inability to follow supervisory direction, and a lack of suitabletemperament for the work involved, he
charges had been under investigation by the OSC, Kleiman
decided to withdraw her
case from the agency out of frustration with its failure to address her
charges in a timely manner. ,After two years of investigation, with no closing date in sight, I decided to withdraw the OSC case and to put all of my energies into my federal court case,, she
Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) assumed responsibility for the U.S. Customs Service from the Treasury Department.