A former Delta Airlines worker and his friend accused of stealing a bag containing more than $258,000 from JFK Airport were cleared in the heist on Monday.
It took less than an hour of for a Brooklyn federal court jury to deliver the not-guilty verdict for ex-Delta ground services worker Quincy Thorpe and his pal, Emanuel Asuquo Okon, following a three-day trial in which prosecutors tried to pin the Sept. 24, 2019 theft on the pair.
“It’s the right thing to do – have a good night,” one juror told The Post in a courthouse hallway.
Thorpe and Okon would have each faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of snatching the loot – which the feds have not recovered.
“We’ll go look for it now,” Thorpe joked as he left the courthouse with Okon and their attorneys.
Prosecutors had relied heavily on grainy surveillance video from JFK that allegedly showed the step-by-step plan of Thorpe, then a 22-year airline employee, who was working on the tarmac and was responsible for loading onto Delta Flight 1225 eight bags of US and foreign cash that came from a cruise ship.
But the mountain of footage – and prosecutors’ allegations that the Thorpe and Okon “made a tremendous mistake” by leaving behind evidence in a getaway car – didn’t seem to persuade the jurors.
“The videos worked against them. It just didn’t show what they claimed that the video showed,” Thorpe’s attorney Lonnie Hart Jr., said after the verdict was delivered.
“It’s just simply none of those videos showed any criminal act being committed, none. Period.”
Hart Jr., in his closing statement earlier Monday, had urged jurors not to be fooled by prosecutors’ “theory” that Thorpe was the “inside man” in the scheme since he worked in the secure part of the international airport and was responsible for the bags getting loaded onto the flight.
Earlier at trial, he claimed Thorpe was being made into a “scapegoat” for the “embarrassment” suffered by Delta and the security and handling company Loomis — which was tasked with protecting the cash.
But prosecutors argued Thorpe and Okon had stolen the “valuable cargo” and then taken steps to “cover their tracks.”
But the two “left behind hard evidence of the crime” – Delta cargo tags for the money shipment and receipts from Loomis – in Okon’s car, prosecutor John Vagelatos told jurors.
Prosecutors alleged Thorpe drove one of the stolen bags on a trailer to a remote airport parking lot where no buildings or cameras were around and transferred it to a white van.
He then had another airline worker drive him in a white van to meet Okon on the public side of the airport where he swapped out the bag – and then went back to work to evade suspicion while his alleged accomplice drove away, the feds claimed.
Both Thorpe and Okon were arrested a week after the alleged heist when the FBI found Okon’s car.
Hart Jr. and Okon’s attorney, Douglas Rankin, claimed that prosecutors had presented a weak case, noting testimony from one of the government’s witnesses, the driver of the white van, Jeremy Hollingsworth, didn’t go in their favor.
Hollingsworth testified that he saw Thorpe carrying a personal bag – not the four-foot cargo bag that carried the missing cash.
Thorpe said he has been on long-term disability with Delta – and his attorney hinted that they would look into taking legal action against the airline after they “served him up to the fed.”
“We’re going to pursue all legal remedies that are available to us. We feel like Delta kind of served him up to the fed like I said in my opening as a scapegoat. So, we’re going to explore our legal opportunities again,” Hart Jr. said.
Thorpe, who immediately covered his face and hugged his attorney, broke down in tears shortly after the verdict, thanking jurors as they exited the courtroom.
He said he’s ready to move forward with his life.
“I’m happy to have my life back. It’s been four years; I’ve been at a standstill and I would just like to pick up the pieces and move forward,” Thorpe said, beaming.
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