NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A security breach of the highest order was uncovered at Newark Liberty Airport on Monday.
An illegal immigrant allegedly assumed the identity of a dead man to get a top security job at the airport, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is calling this “dead man walking,” but it’s really dead man guarding and it has many wondering how anything like this could happen.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond With More On The Story
The man was identified as Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole, but he was known at Newark Airport to his co-workers as Jerry Thomas, and for nearly 20 years he has guarded some of the most secure areas of one of the nation’s busiest airports.
He was arrested Monday after authorities discovered he is really an illegal Nigerian immigrant with four other aliases who entered the country in 1989, officials said.
“In this case, the defendant utilized an elaborate and complex scheme of identity theft to defraud his employer, the State of New Jersey, the federal government and the Port Authority,” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Inspector General Robert Van Etten said.
Somehow the Nigerian obtained the birth certificate and Social Security number of a man murdered in Queens in 1992. He used them to get a New Jersey driver’s license, a state security guard license, airport identification and even credit cards, officials said.
Amazingly he worked security at Newark, including access to the tarmac and passenger planes without ever being detected, officials said.
At the time of his arrest he supervised 30 other guards.
Passengers were stunned.
“Oh my God! That’s all I can say. Where was the breakdown? You can’t believe this type of thing happens, particularly at a major metropolitan airport like this,” one woman said.
“It’s unbelievable. They need to use fingerprints. They need to use eye retinas. We need to get into the space age and update our programs because these things aren’t working,” Greenwood Lake, N.Y.’s Christine Phillips told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez on Monday night.
“You can’t trust anybody anymore,” another woman said. “I don’t understand it. Maybe we should use DNA for identification.”
“If the people that are so-called the gatekeepers are not really having being checked out properly, what’s the point of having so much checks in place if the system is flawed?” added Raymond Chua of Newark.
Authorities want to know how he got the ID made and whether he was involved in the man’s death. The NYPD is checking his fingerprints to see if they match those at the scene of the still unsolved murder.
Authorities are also investigating if the Nigerian, who used the alias “Bimbo” among others, was involved in criminal activity at the airport.
Highly placed sources told Kramer that their biggest concern is the ID scam itself. They fear there could be thousands who could have used it and some they say may be sleeper terror agents working at critical locations throughout the country.
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