Former airline baggage handler pleads guilty to theft of $40,000


A former American Airlines baggage handler pleaded guilty yesterday to pocketing $40,000 from a shipment of nearly $2 million in Federal Reserve money headed for Puerto Rico through Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Sylvester Augustus Moott pleaded guilty to one count of theft from an interstate shipment. Under federal guidelines, he is likely to receive anything from probation to six months in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 13 by U.S. District Judge Frederic N. Smalkin.

Mr. Moott said little during yesterday's hearing and declined to be interviewed afterward.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph L. Evans and FBI documents:

Mr. Moott was one of three baggage handlers who loaded $1.92 million onto an early morning flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 26. As he stacked the money in the back of the plane, Mr. Moott sliced open the plastic wrapping and removed two bundles of cash, each totaling $20,000.

It was not until the plane arrived in San Juan that a courier for Federal Armored Express discovered that a theft had occurred.

Investigators arrested Mr. Moott later after recovering 33 $20 bills that he had given his landlady for rent, and more than $26,000 from the shipment wrapped in his American Airlines jumpsuit and hidden under his bed.

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