Norfolk 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 Jr. and Chris Arthur Perry Jr. 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 Wyngard are charged with stealing guns, electronics, and jewelry and then pawning them.

Indictment: Gregory Paul Wingard

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?”

Indictment: Chris Arthur Perry

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, Wingard, and Chandler all worked for Envoy Air. Airport management says the company is no longer in place at Norfolk International. Envoy Air is a subsidiary of American Airlines. American confirmed that Chandler was hired in September 2013, and Perry and Wingard both started on the same day, October 1, 2013. American says Chandler was terminated in September 2014; Perry resigned in May 2015; Wingard was discharged when Envoy’s contract at Norfolk International ended in July 2015. (American has merged with US Airways, effective Saturday.)

Court sketch by Alba Bragoli
Court sketch by Alba Bragoli

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.

Comments are closed.