Far Rock man pleads guilty to lifting JFK luggage: DA

Frederick McDonald is facing up to six years in prison for stealing passengers' luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
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A Far Rockaway man faces up to six years in prison after he admitted to walking off with passengers’ luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Frederick McDonald, of 10-59 Grassmere Terrace, pleaded guilty last week to four counts of larceny for stealing passenger luggage throughout the airport six times between September 2011 and February 2012, Brown said.

“Traveling through the airports is stressful enough these days without having to worry that if you turn your back for a moment a thief who is lurking about will steal your luggage,” he said. “This is exactly how the defendant operated — snatching luggage filled with thousands of dollars in cash, electronics and other valuables as soon as the victimized passengers were distracted.”

According to his own admissions, McDonald’s theft spree began outside Terminal 8 in September, when he stole a briefcase containing a laptop and $4,000 from a victim who was paying a taxi driver, the DA said.

In January, McDonald struck again. This time, pretending to be a JetBlue porter inside Terminal 4, he offered to help a woman pushing her luggage cart containing a pocketbook, luggage and carry-on bag. When the woman turned to help her 5-year-old son who had fallen, McDonald stole the cart, making off with an iPad, $6,500, a camera and a set of passports, Brown said.

McDonald then hit the airport four times in February, netting himself $5,500 in cash, three laptops, two cell phones, medication and a digital camera, Brown said.

When the Port Authority Police Department started noticing it had a crime pattern on its hands, investigators began looking through hundreds of hours of video surveillance footage, which revealed McDonald stealing and then rifling through luggage, Brown said.

McDonald pleaded guilty to his crimes July 17 and faces three to six years in prison, Brown said.

“Based on the defendant’s own admissions, the sentence promised by the court — three to six years in state prison — is more than justified,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 6:25 pm, July 26, 2012
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