Alabama man charged in Portland airport security case
Posted by The Oregonian August 01, 2009 9:46 PM
Categories: Breaking News
PORTLAND, Ore. –– Carlen Joe Kirby Jr.'s first mistake was trying to get an empty pistol clip through security screening at Portland International Airport.
His second mistake, federal prosecutors say, was telling Transportation Security Administration officers he was a federal agent. Because, well, he wasn't.
A three-count indictment handed up this week in Portland's U.S. District Court accuses Kirby, of Alabama, of falsely claiming to be an agent with the State Department, making a false statement, and possessing a forged government ID.
Kirby, 51, drew suspicion at the airport on May 8 when he put an empty pistol magazine on a table in the security line, according to a federal criminal complaint.
TSA supervisory officer Randal Purrington identified himself to Kirby, who introduced himself as a federal agent, the complaint alleges. Purrington also noticed Kirby had a pair of handcuffs.
The penalty for carrying an empty firearm magazine through TSA security runs anywhere from a warning to a $1,500 fine. But TSA's policy is to waive or decline such penalties against law enforcement personnel who carry prohibited items related to their official duties into security checkpoints, according to the criminal complaint.
A TSA official explained to Kirby he couldn't bring the pistol clip through security, but suggested he might turn to Port of Portland police for help.
Kirby declined. He said he would call his sister, who had just dropped him off at the airport, and give the clip to her, according to the complaint. A short time later, Kirby came through the same security checkpoint.
"You are back, sir?" a TSA officer asked.
A TSA officer operating the X-ray machine spotted a firearm magazine in Kirby's bag. Kirby said he'd forgotten that he put a second magazine in his bag and then identified himself as a federal agent with the State Department, according to the criminal complaint.
"I know that State has armed officers," the TSA officer said, "but I've never seen these creds before."
"There aren't that many of us," Kirby said.
TSA officers allowed Kirby to mail his pistol clip home and let him pass into the airport's secure area.
Later, Federal Air Marshal Edward Kinateder examined the identification Kirby had left with TSA officials: an Alabama driver's license, a U.S. passport card and a Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement ID card.
Kinateder thought the State Department ID looked fishy, so he investigated.
Background checks found that Kirby was born in Florida, lived in Alabama and had a criminal record in Georgia, according to the criminal complaint. And on Sunday, Kinateder got confirmation that Kirby's Department of State ID was phony –– he had never worked there.
On Monday, the air marshal swore out a criminal complaint seeking Kirby's arrest.
U.S. Marshals took him into custody early Wednesday.