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'Operation Greased Runway' Uncovers 3 Bribery Schemes At JFK

Courtesy of John F. Kennedy Airport

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has reached a third settlement agreement in a pay-to-play scheme at JFK Airport. Fines and restitution have so far reached $27 million.

The AG's office dubbed its investigation Operation Greased Runway. It centers around bribes –  manila envelopes stuffed with cash – that an airport executive, Edward Paquette, required in order for restaurants to gain better rent terms and new locations from the Port Authority.

The investigation has now shifted to kickbacks Paquette took from a cargo handling company. Those bribes have uncovered another scheme where the cargo handling company gave a British Airways executive nearly $5 million in exchange for ground handling contracts at JFK and other airports.

In a statement, the Port Authority said the bribes allowed airport tenants to game the system for personal gain.

The AG’s office says its investigation is still ongoing.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.