Virginia airport workers charged with stealing from checked luggage

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Three local men now face federal charges for stealing from passengers at Norfolk International Airport.

Indictments unsealed Wednesday morning name Donte Chandler, Gregory Paul Wingard and Chris Arthur Perry on various charges involving theft, conspiracy and fraud. The charges say the thefts involving Perry and Wingard began in December 2013, and the charges against Chandler are connected to a theft in the Summer of 2014. The indictments show that the crimes happened with checked baggage on US Airways flights.

Indictment: Donte Chandler

The charges claim that Chandler stole an iPad from a piece of luggage and then tried to sell it back to the owner, claiming that he bought the item from Craigslist. Perry and Wyngarde are charged with stealing guns, electronics, and jewelry and then pawning them.

One of the stolen guns belonged to Kevin Coolong of Chesapeake.”I am very concerned that they know which pieces of luggage have weapons in them and which don’t,” he told 10 On Your Side several months ago when we began our investigative report. “How were they able to zero in on my bag?”

Federal authorities say that the scheme involving Coolong’s gun was similar to other stolen items. Once the item was taken from the checked bag, baggage handlers would switch the tags with other luggage to make sure the bag got lost. Coolong was traveling from Norfolk to Maine, but his bag was misdirected to Boston. His gun had already been taken from a case within a larger bag. “I think it’s a very serious problem that our luggage is getting broken into.”

Perry and Wingard worked for Envoy Air. Airport management says the company is no longer in place at Norfolk International. We reached out to Envoy Air for comment. The company referred us to American Airlines, which has merged with US Airways. A call to American was not returned by Wednesday evening.

FBI and Homeland Security investigated eight incidents involving the three defendants. They requested that we wait until arrests were made, as not to jeopardize the investigation, and we honored that request.

Investigative reporter Chris Horne spoke with airport management and they are confident that the investigation was thorough, and there’s no indication that anyone still working there had any involvement.

Perry, Wingard and Chandler are free on bond and are scheduled for arraignment in Norfolk next Wednesday.

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