Found on Newark airport floor
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 7:00 AM
By Steve Strunsky/The Star-Ledger
William Perlman/The Star-LedgerVeteran TSA supervisor and Union Township resident John Deschamp was walking from a baggage screening area to a checkpoint in Terminal C, when he found a package on the floor. He glanced inside before tossing it in the trash, and what he saw was $5,000 in cash. So he turned it in.
NEWARK — In his nine years as a screener at Newark Liberty International Airport, most of John Deschamp’s finds have been pretty ho-hum: mainly loose change or the occasional piece of jewelry left in an X-ray bin by passengers in a rush to catch their flights.
But on Dec. 27, Deschamp made an unusual discovery and, by some accounts, what he did next was just remarkable.
While making his rounds at about 8:30 a.m. inside Terminal C, Deschamp, a supervisory screening officer for the Transportation Security Administration, found a roll of cash — $5,000 in all — on the floor of the second level.
“I was coming down the escalator and I spotted something out of the ordinary on the floor,” said Deschamp, 36, a father of two who lives in Union Township. “I thought it was a piece of trash so I started to walk over to it and looked down and I realized that that was cash on the floor.
“So I picked it up, and I took a pause for a second, like, ‘Is this really money?’ I happened to look up, and I could see my manager with the Continental-United customer service manager, and I asked him to come downstairs and told him what just happened,” he said.
Deschamp has received plenty of praise from his superiors at the TSA, an agency beset by a stream of embarrassing headlines about screeners groping grandmothers, stealing cash from carry-ons, or letting weapons slip through checkpoints.
“This is a premier example of a TSA officer instinctively doing the right thing,” said Newark’s top TSA official, Donald Drummer.
Deschamp said the cash was wadded up, some of it new bills bound by a paper band, like the kind used by banks, and part of it folded in half, as if it had been stuffed in a pocket. Officials said there were no security cameras trained on the area where the money was found.
The money was turned over to United Airlines, since it was found near the United Elite Access check-in desk, not at a TSA checkpoint. Mary Ryan, a United spokeswoman, said that as of Tuesday, no one had claimed the cash.
Even if the money is never claimed, Deschamp will not get it. Instead, the airline will likely put it to a charitable use, Ryan said.
Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman, said Deschamp will be recognized in front of various airport employees, companies and agencies. He will also be honored at a future employee event, she said.
Al Della Fave, a Port Authority police spokesman, said it is unusual for people to carry so much cash through an airport. He listed wealthy individuals, seniors who distrust banks, drug dealers and gamblers as likely bearers. He said it was “just a tremendous credit” to Deschamp to have turned it in.
Deschamp is a 6-foot 3-inch, 320-pound former defensive end at Rowan University who is as unassuming as he is physically imposing.
“Basically I was just doing my job and I would hope that anybody else would do the same,” said Deschamp, who worked with senior citizens and emotionally troubled youth before joining the TSA in 2002.
He wasn’t looking for kudos. But he agreed to tell his story publicly, he said, because he has felt the sting of the agency’s bad press.
“It is upsetting,” he said. “It just gets a little tiring, people constantly saying something. ‘You guys are always in the paper for something bad.’ But hopefully, some of the positive things will start getting out. Like my situation.”
© 2012 NJ.com.
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