Attorney General James And Port Authority Inspector General Nestor Announce Guilty Plea Of Former Port Authority Official For  Misconduct And Receiving Unlawful Gratuities

QUEENS – – Attorney General Letitia James and Inspector General Michael Nestor today announced the guilty plea of Marlene Mizzi, age 55, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey employee for 35 years. Mizzi accepted benefits from representatives of foreign countries for violating her duty as a public servant as a Port Authority Official at John F. Kennedy Airport. 

Mizzi pleaded guilty to charges of Official Misconduct and Receiving Unlawful Gratuities, two class “A” misdemeanors. The guilty plea is in satisfaction of two indictments filed in Queens County that stemmed from a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and the Port Authority Inspector General’s Office. 

“Mizzi broke the law and defiled the public’s trust when she granted favors to foreign governments in exchange for bribes, gifts and rewards,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “When government employees leverage their public positions for personal enrichment, they commit a grave injustice to the people they serve. My office will continue to bring to justice those that engage in corrupt behavior to preserve and protect the integrity of our government agencies.” 

"The defendant violated her position of public trust and used her position for personal gain," said Michael Nestor, Inspector General for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “In this case, the defendant chose to enrich herself by accepting cash, travel, meals and other things of value from representatives of foreign governments. The Port Authority will not tolerate employee misconduct or corruption of any kind. Today’s guilty plea will serve notice to all Port Authority employees that the agency will not tolerate violations of the public trust or any other corrupt acts. The Port Authority Office of Inspector General and its Law Enforcement partners will aggressively identify, investigate and bring to justice those who corrupt the integrity of the agency.” 

As detailed in Court records, Mizzi most recently worked as an Assistant Airport Duty Supervisor at John F. Kennedy Airport (“JFK”) for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. During the annual United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, with airport security at a heightened state, Port Authority rules clearly state that foreign state aircraft must depart JFK within two hours of arrival and there is no overnight parking of foreign state aircraft. From 2014 until she left the Port Authority in June 2018, Ms. Mizzi was the individual responsible for explaining this rule to foreign countries at a pre-Assembly conference. 

Mizzi admitted to unilaterally granting exceptions to the overnight parking rule without proper approval for the country of Qatar, allowing a Qatari diplomatic flight to stay overnight during the 2014 United Nations General Assembly. She acknowledged that in return for the improper exception she granted during the 2014 General Assembly, a representative from the Qatar Mission to the UN provided Mizzi with free limousine rides, meals, and gifts. According to court documents, Mizzi allegedly received cash, bottles of wine, and other gifts from another foreign state’s representative in return for the same overnight parking privilege.  

Mizzi also admitted to receiving other gifts from additional foreign countries for her work at JFK.  The Port Authority Code of Ethics has a strict zero tolerance policy on the acceptance of payments, gifts, free meals, or transportation from vendors or anyone the Port Authority does or is likely to do business with.  

The Attorney General’s Office thanks the Port Authority Inspector General’s Office for their assistance on this case. 

The investigation was conducted by the Port Authority Office of the Inspector General, under the supervision Steven Pasichow, Director of Investigations, Salvatore Dalessandro, Assistant Director of Investigations, and John Kane, Supervisory Police Investigator. 

Assistant Attorney Generals Russell Y. Satin and Gerard Murphy of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau are prosecuting this case under the supervision of Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. Rachel Demma is the Legal Analyst on this matter.  The Public Integrity Bureau is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General of Criminal Justice Jose Maldonado.  

 

 

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