Three Customs Agents Charged for Operating "Rape Table" Inside Newark Airport

3 Newark airport customs officers arrested

3 Newark airport customs officers arrested

Parmenio I. Perez, 40, of Paterson; Tito Catota, 38, of Newark; and Michael A. Papagni, 32, of West Orange, have been charged with forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating, and interfering with the two victims engaged in their duties as customs officers.

Catota, Perez, and Papagni were employed as officers at the Passenger Enforcement Rover Team (PERT) which specializes in identification and interception of passengers trying to bring contraband into the USA or might be associated with terrorist activities. Papagni allegedly threatened one victim, informing him that the tables in the middle of the officer were known as the "rape table" and one day he would "get (victim one) on it".

On Jan. 10, 2017, that victim was asked to forward a document related to a prior drug seizure. While Victim One and an individual identified in the complaint as CBPO 1 were trying to scan the document, Papagni allegedly warned Victim One that he had five minutes to get out of the office or Papagni would teach him "what this team is about".

Moments later, the lights were shut off in the office.

As the other two held him down, "Perez got on top of Victim One's mid-section and began to grind his body up and down against Victim One's genitals through Victim One's clothing in a motion that simulated a sex act", the complaint says.

The victim unsuccessfully attempted to push Perez off his body, but was released when Perez eventually got off of the victim, the complaint said. In another, authorities said the three men held a second victim down on the table while rubbing up and down against his leg. A few minutes later, that victim saw an officer lock one of the doors to the office. The second victim was assigned to the Port Director staff. The victim started to walk towards the other door but it was closed. Catota, Papagni, and Perez then grabbed Victim Two and threw him on his side on the PERT office table. The victim struggled to get free until Catota, Papagni, and Perez eventually released him, according to the criminal complaint. "This behavior would be abhorrent in any environment, especially one serving a critical law enforcement function", acting to U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick said. "The hard working men and women who protect our borders deserve better".

If found guilty, the three rape table operators are looking at a maximum potential penalty of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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