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View Full Version : SFO Baggage Handler Receives Three Month Sentence for Gun Theft


navyinrwanda
07-31-2009, 2:01 PM
This was originally posted in the "off-topic" discussion lounge (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=208147). Three SFO baggage handlers have been convicted of theft from checked luggage. A retired San Francisco police sergeant's gun was among the items taken, which no doubt triggered the sting operation. One of the three has not yet been sentenced; but the two others received three and one month sentences respectively. The third thief, Tauailapalapa Laulu, was only convicted of a misdemeanor. Also, all three have apparently been out of custody on their own recognizance since the initial arrest (as reported by the San Mateo Daily Journal (http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview_print.php?id=105109)).

Does this seem to be an appropriate punishment for firearm theft, especially in a state that inflicts such draconian burdens on law-abiding gun owners?

As reported today on SFGate.com (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/07/31/BATI1925R4.DTL&tsp=1):

(07-31) 08:06 PDT SAN MATEO -- Three baggage handlers at San Francisco International Airport have been convicted of stealing from luggage during an undercover sting that was launched in the wake of the theft of a retired police sergeant's gun, authorities said today.

Andrew Balamiento, 28; John Emil Victoria, 21; and Tauailapalapa Laulu, 27, each pleaded no contest to embezzlement for stealing from passenger luggage while working for Servisair, a ground handling company that serviced Delta Airlines.

The case began in September when a retired San Francisco police sergeant checked his custom-made handgun with his luggage for a Delta flight. The weapon disappeared after check-in and was the latest in a spate of thefts from luggage, said Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County's chief deputy district attorney.

A sting operation was launched in which three bags were checked on two different flights. A game system and an Apple laptop computer were stolen from one bag, and a gold watch and foreign currency from the second bag were stolen, Wagstaffe said.

Some of the stolen items were found in Balamiento's work locker, while the stolen handgun was found at Victoria's home. The computer was found in Laulu's possession, Wagstaffe said.

Balamiento will be sentenced on Sept. 10. Victoria was sentenced to three months of jail and three years of probation. Both were convicted of felony embezzlement. Laulu was sentenced to a month in jail and two years of probation for misdemeanor embezzlement.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at hlee@sfchronicle.com.

1JimMarch
07-31-2009, 2:12 PM
In a government run by criminals, the criminal class is an ally, not an enemy.

Untamed1972
07-31-2009, 2:24 PM
I thought firearms theft in CA was a felony? Not to mention it would seem that stealing from baggage as a baggage handler could also be considred embezzlement which is also a felony.

Maestro Pistolero
07-31-2009, 2:57 PM
Also, the thief would have been in possession of a firearm in an unsecured area of the airport. That's got to weigh in somehow.

bodger
07-31-2009, 3:04 PM
It sems light considering that theft, firearm, airport are all involved.

Not to mention the fact that one of the perpetrator's names was
Tauailapalapa.

That by itself should kick it to a felony just because of all the extra effort involved to get that straight on all the paperwork.

bulgron
07-31-2009, 3:07 PM
In a government run by criminals, the criminal class is an ally, not an enemy.

Yep.

How did we let things get this bad, anyway?

Fate
07-31-2009, 3:09 PM
Pity the owner of the firearm wasn't also a C&R holder. That would be a Federal crime too.

not-fishing
07-31-2009, 3:33 PM
A buddy of mine's cousin ran his prized Safari rifles thru SFO on a trip a couple of decades ago and they were "all busted up" inside the hard sided case. Funny how they never found the guy who did the cowardly deed in baggage handeling.........

Shotgun Man
07-31-2009, 5:22 PM
I thought firearms theft in CA was a felony? Not to mention it would seem that stealing from baggage as a baggage handler could also be considred embezzlement which is also a felony.

It is a felony, even a strike under the 3-strikes law. These guys got off light. Either there were some problems of proof for the DA or they're comparatively light on crime up there in SF.

bodger
07-31-2009, 5:59 PM
It is a felony, even a strike under the 3-strikes law. These guys got off light. Either there were some problems of proof for the DA or they're comparatively light on crime up there in SF.

Comparatively light on gun crime in SF seems like a contradiction in terms but you may be right.
My guess is they were illegal aliens, oh sorry, I mean undocumented workers, and the unspoken unwritten laws of sanctuary kicked in.

1JimMarch
07-31-2009, 6:34 PM
My guess is they were illegal aliens

Like hell they were. They passed a pretty extensive screening process to stay on that gig post-9/11 and be anywhere near aircraft. I guarandamnTEE you they're legal workers if not citizens.

Sick Boy
07-31-2009, 6:43 PM
It sems light considering that theft, firearm, airport are all involved.

Not to mention the fact that one of the perpetrator's names was
Tauailapalapa.

That by itself should kick it to a felony just because of all the extra effort involved to get that straight on all the paperwork.

Yeah, WTF??!! Stolen and not registered to you handgun in your possession??!!

And all they got charged with was felony embezzlement? That's just craptastic!

bodger
07-31-2009, 6:50 PM
Like hell they were. They passed a pretty extensive screening process to stay on that gig post-9/11 and be anywhere near aircraft. I guarandamnTEE you they're legal workers if not citizens.

Yeah, like the gate screeners that were found out later to have had various past criminal offenses that should have precluded them from occupying those positions.
Fake IDs, never been fingerprinted, the list goes on as to how someone can get a job like that and not be who they say they are.

But that's just, my pessimism lack of faith in the system talking.

I'm an old white guy. If they had caught me doing that crime, I'd be UNDER the jail.

Doheny
07-31-2009, 7:51 PM
My job gives me an "all area" access at an airport in S. CA. I can say from experience that the baggage handlers weren't illegal aliens and didn't have any offenses that would preclude them from being hired. The temptation was probably just too great...seeing guns and high prices items under their nose everyday (poor excuse, but it happens.)

When my wife was traveling w/ a number of other LEOs on an assignment, one of them had his gun stolen from his checked bag (this was before LEOs could carry on board); the gun was never found. The sheriff captain in charge of the security detail at my local airport says he won't even check his gun...it's too much of a hassle and the chances of it getting stolen is too great.

Re: these guys only getting misdemeanors, none of us were there, so we don't know what happen. They could have worked out a deal w/ the D.A. Also, they found the gun in his home, it wasn't part of the sting. That would also likely cause him to get charged w/ possession of the gun, vs. the actual theft of it.

SPROCKET
07-31-2009, 11:12 PM
It always amazes me how light sentences are for scumbags caught with stolen firearms. The cynical side of me suspects this is not an accident.

Sick Boy
08-01-2009, 2:07 AM
OK, this is just crazy. I was just watching the CBS 5 news and they had some additional info on these bastards.

In the sting, they found stolen gaming system, laptops, gold watch and foreign currency in their work lockers and their homes!!

And all these guys got were 3 months??!! WTF is our judicial system coming too??!! I am hoping these guys got such a reduced sentence because they flipped and gave them some much bigger bastards to catch. If not, then I am feeling outraged to have these people enforcing the laws in the state.

artherd
08-01-2009, 3:01 AM
(this was before LEOs could carry on board)
They still can't... Only the pilots and Federal Marshals may carry weapons onboard an airline's aircraft.

gcvt
08-01-2009, 3:52 AM
It is a felony, even a strike under the 3-strikes law. These guys got off light. Either there were some problems of proof for the DA or they're comparatively light on crime up there in SF.

Comparatively light on gun crime in SF seems like a contradiction in terms but you may be right.
My guess is they were illegal aliens, oh sorry, I mean undocumented workers, and the unspoken unwritten laws of sanctuary kicked in.

Have you met our D.A.? You can be a known gang member, kill a cop with an illegal AK-47 and not even get the death penalty.

You could probably start a murder-for-hire business here, and with Kamala in office, you'd probably get your first few hits down to misdemeanor status :rolleyes:

Doheny
08-01-2009, 4:00 AM
They still can't... Only the pilots and Federal Marshals may carry weapons onboard an airline's aircraft.

Actually, local, state and federal officers can carry on board if they've taken TSA's Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed training program and a National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) message has been submitted prior to travel. My wife has done it a number of times:

http://www.tsa.gov/lawenforcement/programs/traveling_with_guns.shtm

.

cousinkix1953
08-01-2009, 4:45 AM
Does this seem to be an appropriate punishment for firearm theft, especially in a state that inflicts such draconian burdens on law-abiding gun owners?

As reported today on SFGate.com (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/07/31/BATI1925R4.DTL&tsp=1):
Hell no. Three months is not enough. Stealing a gun is a felony! Throw them in state prison.

Mere posession of an unregistered assault weapon (on the Roos-Roberti list) can get an otherwise law abiding citizen a three year term in Sacramento's gulags. And they've added more weapons to that s--- list by executive order without any press releases or fanfare. Somebody. who doesn't belong to Cal-Guns or a similiar group, might learn the hard way that a firearm which he owns is illegal.

God only knows just how many people loaded their firearms into a U-HAUL and moved to the PRK thinking nothing about owning those guns. My brother didn't worry about any of this paperwork or paying a $19.00 fee to re-register his handguns, when he arrived in 2002...

You're screwed if you get caught with OLLs in some areas too, even though these aren't technically illegal. A Los Angeles county resident was prosecuted for having a banned assault rifle, after the police confiscated his Ruger 10/22 in 1990. Again, just never mind that rimfire weapons were excluded from the Roos-Robert list and everybody knew it...

B Strong
08-01-2009, 7:47 AM
About par for the course with a real criminal and a firearm charge.

Jim Fox's office doesn't take on losing cases, and doesn't waste much time in prosecution either. He runs them into and out of the courtroom as quickly as possible. If that means short sentences, so be it.

Having had a friend murdered in a road rage incident (Julius Long, R.I.P.) and watching the murderer get six months work furlough for misdemeanor vehicular homicide, no short sentence surprises me out of San Mateo county - remember, a win is always a win!

bodger
08-01-2009, 8:24 AM
Have you met our D.A.? You can be a known gang member, kill a cop with an illegal AK-47 and not even get the death penalty.

You could probably start a murder-for-hire business here, and with Kamala in office, you'd probably get your first few hits down to misdemeanor status :rolleyes:

I thought SF was the anti-gun capital of the PRK and tough on prosecuting the offenders.

The hypocrisy of this state is mind boggling.

U2BassAce
08-01-2009, 9:22 AM
Also, the thief would have been in possession of a firearm in an unsecured area of the airport. That's got to weigh in somehow.

That should be HUGE! They should be charged with having an unsecured firearm in a secured area. Get the Feds involved and hang their arses!

KWA-S
08-01-2009, 10:33 AM
I think everyones forgotten that the CA jails are now full and cannot accept anymore guests. Sorry for the inconvenience while we try to make accommodations! Please visit us soon!

:chris:

bodger
08-01-2009, 12:42 PM
I think everyones forgotten that the CA jails are now full and cannot accept anymore guests. Sorry for the inconvenience while we try to make accommodations! Please visit us soon!

:chris:

I guess I won't sweat it then if I just go ahead and carry concealed whilst waiting for Shall Issue. Better than getting shot by a BG.

navyinrwanda
08-01-2009, 12:53 PM
I thought SF was the anti-gun capital of the PRK and tough on prosecuting the offenders.

The hypocrisy of this state is mind boggling.
The San Francisco airport is in San Mateo county, not San Francisco city & county. San Francisco owns the airport and operates it, but there's a separate airport police.

These guys were prosecuted by the San Mateo district attorney, not San Francisco's infamous Kamala Harris (http://www.kamalaharris.org). She's busy running to replace Jerry Brown in 2010 as California Attorney General.

tyrist
08-01-2009, 1:11 PM
I hate to repeat this again but in California your first felony is on the house pretty much. When you add in good time/work time they usually end up doing less than a couple of weeks. They don't start getting serious on criminals until they have had numerous arrests. Even with numerous arrests and violations of your parole or probation all that happens is your probation/parole are continually extended until you will never discharge before you die.

cousinkix1953
08-01-2009, 6:06 PM
I thought SF was the anti-gun capital of the PRK and tough on prosecuting the offenders.

The hypocrisy of this state is mind boggling.
Isaac Espinoza was murdered during a gang initiation ceremony. The same mush headed DA, who refused to seek the death penalty against a cop killer, who used an illegal Chinese AK/s-47 clone, now wants to run for attorney general of the PRK. I hope they use this PC stuff against Kamala Harris big time. We don't need a weenie, who backs down; when she tries to play the "race" card either.

San Francisco is a gang infested crime ridden sanctuary city! Illegal aliens are not allowed to posess firearms. They can't buy guns with a Mexican drivers license, which gets them nowhere in the stores. The SFPD does not call ICE; when these foreigners are are caught with illegal guns. They won't enforce federal gun control laws on the books since 1968. Gavin Newsom's anti-gun rhetoric is the biggest joke in the state...

Mstrty
08-01-2009, 9:40 PM
Yep.

How did we let things get this bad, anyway?

One Gun Grabbing Nut Job at a time.

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. 1974

Dianne Feinstein 1992

Barbara Boxer 1992

Joan Flores 36TH CONGRESSIONAL 1992 anti gun Republican voted for LA "asault weapon" band

Charles M. Calderon D-58th Assembly District 1982
Tom Torlakson 11th Assembly District, 1996


And we never learn We just keep following the pie'd pipper, Slamming back one Kool-Aid after the next. Then we ask How does this happen??? Blame the poeple that voted for the ones below. Their Anti-Gun views are no secret.

Jose Solorio Dem. 69th Assembly district 2006
Fiona Ma 12th Assembly District (D-San Francisco) 2006
De Leon, D-45th Assembly District 2006
Paul Krekorian 43rd. District 2006
Warren Furutani D-55th District 2008
Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) 2008
John A. Pérez (D-46th District) 2008
Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo 2008
Tom Ammiano Dem (D- San Francisco) 2008


Beall
Blumenfield
Brownley
Buchanan
Carter
Coto
Davis
De La Torre
De Leon
Eng
Evans
Feuer
Fong
Furutani
Hall
Hayashi
Hernandez
Hill
Huffman
Jones
Krekorian
Lieu
Bonnie
Lowenthal
Mendoza
Monning
Nava
Portantino
Price
Ruskin
Salas
Saldana
Skinner
Swanson
Torres
Torrico
Bass

packnrat
08-02-2009, 7:43 PM
So I can use this as a way to not serve time "IF" I am caught with a not legal to me pistol ????

Ishoot
08-02-2009, 7:52 PM
It sems light considering that theft, firearm, airport are all involved.

Not to mention the fact that one of the perpetrator's names was
Tauailapalapa.

That by itself should kick it to a felony just because of all the extra effort involved to get that straight on all the paperwork.

Alright, that one made me chuckle. :)