Food For Thought
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Courageous Whistleblower
Diane Kleiman
Exposes Major U.S. Customs Cover-Ups
At JFK Airport

October 7th, 2004
by columnist
David Lawrence Dewey
"Reading provides knowledge...
knowledge leads to answers."
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On February 3, 1999, U.S. Customs agent, Diane Kleiman arrested two suspects carrying $750,000 in cash.

Even though the currency was in the custody of the U.S. Customs Service, approximately $300,000 simply disappeared. Kleiman made note of the missing money in her "Report of Investigation" (ROI). According to Kleiman, Tom Flood, who her was her supervisor, that after reviewing the report, ordered Kleiman to change the amount of the missing cash to only $44,000.

What is disturbing about this case is the fact that all rooms at JFK Customs are equipped with video cameras, with one exception. The room where the currency is counted has no camera. Kleiman assumed that a $300,000 discrepancy would spark interest from someone, internal affairs or at least the Justice Department. KIeiman was wrong.

Much to Kleiman's surprise, no internal affairs investigation was ever initiated. What happened next was a series of what is evident was the beginning of a huge cover-up.

Kleiman was first alienated and isolated from her co-workers. This was Kleiman's first arrest since becoming a U.S. Customs agent. For some reason, her supervisor, Tom Flood ordered the other agents in the office not to assist Kleiman in the continuing investigation of this case.

During Kleiman's investifation, she discovered that one of the two suspects was already wanted by the DEA. This suspect was turned over to the DEA. This lead Kleiman to begin a cooperative effort with a DEA agent from Florida.

Kleiman then became an outcast in the JFK Customs office by reporting the missing $300,000. She now found herself without assistance from her supervisor or coworkers as she tried to do her job.

Because of the cooperative effort with the DEA agent in Florida she was about to find out more about what and how these suspects and the $750,000 were tied to. Her contact at the DEA in Florida told her about a smuggling operation at JFK and how the ring operated. This is what Kleiman discovered from her DEA contact.

An airline employee with keys to the ramp would booked a flight on the same flight on which the courier
( or mule) transporting the drugs. The airline employee would use his keys and access as an employee to exit the airport along with the mule, bypassing Customs inspection, Security and Immigration checkpoints.

Using information she had obtained in the arrest and the information from the DEA, Kleiman continued her investigation. Evidently, Tom Flood who was her superivisor expected Kleiman to fail without guidance or assistance in the case.

However, just the opposite happened. Within 6 weeks Kleiman made an important arrest.

The case involved a conspiracy of airline workers at JFK who were smuggling massive amounts of drugs through the airport. The drugs ultimately found their way to the streets of New York. Kleiman arrested the mule who had 46.2 pounds of cocaine. She also detained an airline employee, who had been seated directly behind the mule with the keys to all the exit gates and also a New York City police detective seated with the mule and airline worker.

Kleiman's DEA agent contact had described this exact smuggling scenario to her after making numerous arrests in Florida based on the same pattern. What happened next was very disturbing.

Tom Flood, Kleiman's supervisor, released everyone except the mule. There was no question that getting an indictment for drug smuggling against all three would not have been a problem. So why did Tom flood release the airline employee and detective? To make matters worse, the airline employee released was back at work at the airport ramps at JFK the very next day

The events that followed are disturbing to say the least.

Kleiman was called into a meeting with her supervisor, Tom Flood. According to Kleiman, Flood ordered her to commit perjury before the Grand Jury. Kleiman says that Flood told her that it would be embarrassing for Customs to admit that drugs were being smuggled in right under their noses. Even more embarrassing would be the fact that it took DEA to inform Customs of the problem. It was apparent what was now happenning. A turf war between the U.S. Customs and DEA had begun.

Kleiman informed Flood that she would not lie before the Grand Jury. When Kleiman refused, according to Kleiman, "He threatened me with termination." In the days to come in the investigation, Kleiman refused to commit perjury and the DEA Agent involved in the arrest subsequently backed up Kleiman's account of what transpired.

Firing Kleiman presented a difficult task for Tom Flood. Up until this case, Kleiman's evaluations had always been excellent. But before they could fire Kleiman, they had to make her look incompetent before they did.

According to Kleiman, Tom Flood told her the following. He would re-write all her evaluations and make it look as if she had been doing poorly on her job. What is so disturbing about this case is according to Kleiman, Tom Flood stole her evaluation book which contained copies of her previous elevation from a locked cabinet. Thankfully, Kleiman had copies of the originals.

Tom Flood then fired Kleiman after "re-writing" Kleiman's evaluations from good to bad. A year later there was an investigation on the circumstances of Kleiman's termination and according to Kleiman, Tom Flood lied to the investigator. Flood had presented re-written evaluations and stated that these were the only evaluations that had ever existed. Flood has re-written Kleiman's original evaluations that were good, to trying to portray her as an inferior agent. Flood's new re-written evaluations of Kleiman differed greatly from the positive versions of which Kleiman had copies of and in which she gave to the investigator investigating her termination.

According to Kleiman, Tom Flood was asked if her evaluations had been amended or superseded. Flood said that they had not. The investigator then informed Flood's boss, Marvin Walker, that she had copies of the original evaluations and that Flood was lying. Walker told her to wait while he went to Flood's office for more information. An hour later, still waiting while Flood and Walker were still behind closed doors, the investigator ended the meeting and decided to let the case go to trial.

Kleiman has filed a court case in U.S. Federal Court of wrongful termination and is determined to bring the truth out about the cover-up of the case. According to Kleiman, she is not interested in a settlement, she simply wants the truth to get out to the american public of this cover-up. Kleiman is concerned also about the public. Everyday, the public, Kleiman says are placed at risk while believing that things have changed in these days since 9/11. However since 9/11, Kleiman charges there have been numerous violations, such as:

People with access to the ramps are NOT checked when they enter or leave the ramps. This means that drugs, money, bombs and guns can be placed on or removed from planes by airport workers in the course of their daily work. Even the best passenger screening is meaningless if weapons are put on the planes by accomplices with access to the aircraft.

Many of these employees are illegal aliens and have criminal backgrounds.

Ramp workers were not screened by the federal government for 2 years following 9/11.

Finally, and most important Kleiman says, "it doesn’t matter what new procedures are enacted in Washington DC., when supervisors at the ports of entry are incompetent, engaged in criminal activity and corruption or both. When the bosses are inept, the morale of the rank and file declines, leaving our borders unprotected."

According to Kleiman, the following is a list of recent incidents at JFK.

6/21/2002 - A group of American Airline workers were arrested for taking bribes of $1000 a head to smuggle illegal aliens through the airport using their pass keys. They would smuggle them through the sterile corridors, the same method Kleiman had described in March, 1999.

8/9/2002 - Thousands of U.S . Customs employee credentials and computers with sensitive information were reported lost or stolen.

11/18/2002 - 118 ramp workers were arrested at JFK who were illegal aliens and or had criminal histories.

6/14/2003 - Naked man arrested found wondering on the ramps of LaGuardia Airport. Obviously. The man was mentally ill but he had broken security. If he had been wearing overalls, nobody would have noticed him and he could have placed an explosive device on a plane.

8/12/2003 - 3 boat kids were washed ashore on the ramps of JFK and found wandering around for hours without being stopped. Imagine the kind of havoc they could have caused if they had bad intentions. They had to spend hours trying to seek out help from the police.

11/25/2003 - 25 airline ramp workers who were part of a large drug conspiracy ring were arrested for smuggling in huge amounts of drugs into the country, including the largest drug arrest in the history of JFK Airport.

In a 14 month period alone, they smuggled into the U.S. - $50 million dollars worth of cocaine. They should have been arrested earlier but their arrest was timed for when a Congressional group was going to be at JFK that day.

Kleiman charges that U.S. Customs has denied that drugs were smuggled under their noses for over a decade. All of Kleiman's written documentation proves that Customs was well aware of the drug smuggling operation since at least 1999. Imagine how many kids could have been spared drug addictions and possibly overdoses during this five year time frame.

Kleiman further charges: "the method for smuggling the drugs into the country is the same as the method for smuggling surface to air missiles, firearms, biological, chemical or nuclear devices, yet instead of conducting an investigation, the agency continues to attack the whistle blower, the person who exposes the problem. If whistle blowers are silenced, our country is left unprotected. "

My opinion, Kleiman deseves a medal for exposing this corruption in our own government.

For more information and updates on Diane Kleiman's case and to learn more about Diane, be sure to visit her site at: Diane is presently a practicing attorney in the State of New York. Sometime this month, Diane will be giving depositions for her Federal Court case to expose the truth concerning this corruption. What I would really like to know, what happened to the $300,000 missing money? And, why are there no cameras in the room at the U.S. Customs office at JFK where they count money?

Last but least, Diane's final thoughts on this matter are these.

"My hope is that it will instill enough anger into each and every reader so that you will write to your senators and congressmen to demand reform and accountability. I hope that you will take the time to write a letter to express your outrage about what happens to the whistle blowers in these agencies because it is the whistle blowers that will save your lives. I'm not interested in a settlement because I want the story to get into a public forum, that being in federal court in front of a jury." Diane wants the truth told to the American Public.

For Diane and most importantly for yourself, I urge my readers to write their Congressman today about this serious case and demand both a Senate and House Investigation.

Until next time,

~ David Lawrence Dewey

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