Newark TSA Official `Coerced' to Quit

Grandinetti's statements are the first on-the-record confirmation that his departure was connected to the promotion scandal that gripped the security staff at Newark Liberty earlier this year.


In his MSPB filing, Grandinetti also contended that shortly after he resigned, he regretted the move and asked for his old job back but was rebuffed.

"The agency coerced me into resigning involuntarily," his filing says. "I attempted to withdraw my involuntary resignation, but the agency refused to accept the withdrawal of my involuntary resignation. . . . The agency constructively removed me without giving me any of the due process rights to which I am entitled."

TURNED DOWN

Barbara Powell, who was serving as acting federal security director on Jan. 31 because Hatfield was attending a national conference, wrote the letter rejecting Grandinetti's request for reinstatement.

A copy of Powell's letter that day was included with Grandinetti's MSPB filing. While Powell's name was blacked out, it listed her title "acting federal security director" and noted the federal security director's absence.

"I decline to cancel the referenced separation action (resignation) for the following reasons: 1.) Your decision was not coerced; and 2.) You had ample time in which to make your decision," Powell wrote to Grandinetti.

Hatfield and the TSA declined to specifically comment on Grandinetti's charges.

"I'm going to take the high road here," said Hatfield, who took over the security helm at Newark Liberty in March 2006 following his predecessor's ouster. "We adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct and transparent process that comports with federal rules and regulations. I demand that of my staff, just as I demand it of myself."

Citing privacy laws, Ann Davis, a TSA spokeswoman, said the agency would not release any legal filings it made to MSPB in connection with Grandinetti's case. The TSA's filings were not part of the material released to the newspaper by MSPB under the freedom of information request. The paper has filed a new request for TSA's filings.

"TSA policy forbids discussion or comment on pending litigation," said Davis earlier this month before the case was officially closed. "Further, most documents pertaining to current and former employees are protected by the (federal) Privacy Act and, as such, cannot be released to the public."

Martin Kastner, Grandinetti's attorney, also declined to discuss the MSPB filing he submitted on his client's behalf or the decision to withdraw it.

"I really have no comment," said Kastner when reached by phone about the case. He also did not respond to a follow-up e-mail that sought comment from Grandinetti, whose current home address, age, e-mail address and phone numbers were unavailable.

Grandinetti declined to comment to the newspaper about the test scandal when reached on his government cell phone just days before he resigned.

Ron Marsico may be reached at or (973) 392-7860.

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