Sex Offender With Stolen Boarding Pass Gets Through Security
He was only caught when the real passenger checked in
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2015 2:04 PM CST
A plane comes in for a landing at Salt Lake International Airport.   (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Rick Egan, File)

(Newser) – Authorities at Salt Lake City International Airport are trying to figure out how a man who swiped a boarding pass that a female passenger had accidentally left in a kiosk was able to get past security. Michael Salata, 61, was able to check in at the boarding gate for a Southwest Airlines flight to Oakland and he was only caught when the real passenger, who was a little way behind Salata in line, showed a replacement boarding pass she had on her phone, reports the Deseret News, which notes that it is not clear whether Salata made it onto the plane. Police say Salata, who is homeless, could be charged with "fraudulent handling of a recordable writing," which is a third-degree felony in Utah, the News reports.

A Southwest Airlines spokeswoman tells the News that TSA security screeners are "tasked with verifying a passenger’s boarding pass and identification" before the passenger can get to a boarding gate, and it was Southwest's own system that caught Salata by flagging that his boarding pass had already been scanned. It is not clear why Salata—who was placed on the sex offender registry in 2012 after a charge of lewdness involving a child—wanted to board the plane, but officials say he wasn't carrying anything that would have made him a security risk, the AP reports. (Undercover Homeland Security agents tried to smuggle fake explosives and weapons past TSA agents 70 times and were only caught on three occasions.)
 

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