Four cargo handlers and a manager at Kennedy Airport were charged Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court with stealing international mail to rip off foreign currency, the second prosecution in a year of an airport mail-theft ring.
Over four years, the government said, the thieves — all ex-employees of Aircraft Service International Group — swiped mail with Japanese yen and euros from foreign carriers and cashed it in at airport money exchanges.
Handlers worked in tandem, serving as lookouts while others stuffed envelopes into their shirts out of view on the plane and then trading places, according a criminal complaint.
They also used a slang code describing their thefts as “eating,” saying they were “hungry” when they wanted to steal, and telling each other “there is food in the belly of the plane” when a mail shipment came in, according to the complaint.
Rickash Gobin, 41, of Queens, a former manager, is accused of aiding the conspiracy by demanding kickbacks to assign members of the ring to flights where they could steal mail.
Gobin admitted to making $2,000 from the scheme, the government said, while others made exchanges of as much as $50,000 — including $20,000 for the only Long Island defendant, Fitzroy Ragbeer, 58, of Inwood, according to the complaint.
Six other Kennedy Airport cargo handlers, three from the same company, were charged with stealing and laundering foreign currency last year in Brooklyn federal court. Those charges are still pending.