Second man guilty of raiding soldiers' bags


Crime Watch

Baltimore & Region


The second of three former baggage handlers at Baltimore-Washington International Airport accused of stealing electronics and other valuables from the checked luggage of soldiers being deployed overseas pleaded guilty to criminal charges yesterday in what authorities have called a theft ring targeting travelers.

Michael Harlee, 23, of Baltimore pleaded guilty in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to one count each of felony and misdemeanor theft of goods stolen last year while he worked at BWI. Identified were a laptop belonging to a soldier bound for Iraq and a digital memory stick belonging to an Air Force serviceman heading to Kuwait.

Harlee also admitted stealing everything from digital cameras to bubble gum, Anne Arundel County Assistant State's Attorney Michael Dunty told Judge Joseph P. Manck. A four-page list of items Harlee is forfeiting includes portable computers, electronic games, small military-use items and even such personal goods as hair clippers.

In November 2004, military officials told Maryland Transportation Authority Police that 31 soldiers complained that items had been taken from luggage at the airport, which the military uses as a hub. By the month's end, police had identified three likely suspects who worked for Signature Flight Support, which has a contract with the military.

Timothy Dixon, Harlee's lawyer, said his client "knows he made a stupid mistake" and cooperated with police. He is now pursuing a bachelor's degree at Morgan State University, Dixon said.

Goods seized in connection with these cases include dozens of laptop computers, more than 1,500 CDs and DVDs, as well as dozens of video games, watches, computer accessories, cell phones, jewelry, knives, MP3 players and small items of military equipment such as compasses.

Dunty said authorities have had difficulty reuniting service members halfway around the world with the thousands of items stolen over many months.

In July, Shaka Nesta Watson, 20, was sentenced to two years in prison for his role. The third suspect, Derek Jerod Murray, 20, of Glen Burnie, is scheduled for trial in December.

Elkton student, 16, stabbed

A feud between two students at Elkton High School led to a stabbing Wednesday that left a 16-year-old in critical condition, police said. The victim, a freshman whose name was not released, was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with non-life-threatening "puncture wounds," according to Cecil County school officials.

A junior, also 16, was arrested and charged with one count of second-degree assault. Neither student was identified because of their age.

Associated Press

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