The Slatest

On-Duty Air Marshal Leaves Gun on Airport Toilet Paper Dispenser as Agency Faces Investigation

Drunk visitors lie in the grass during the opening day of the 2010 Oktoberfest in Munich. Air marshal status uncomfirmed.

Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images

A federal air marshal left his loaded gun on a toilet paper dispenser in a bathroom at Newark Liberty International Airport before boarding a plane that he was meant to protect, NJ Advance Media reports.

An airport janitor discovered the gun in a men’s room in Newark’s Terminal C, according to an anonymous Transportation Security Administration supervisor and a law enforcement source who spoke with

From the site:

Officers took possession of the weapon, which upon inspection was found to be loaded, and then traced its serial number to the marshal, the sources said.

The sources did not know the precise date of the incident, which they said occurred in the last afternoon or early evening.

A TSA spokesman for the marshal service, Michael D. Pascarella, declined to comment.

“TSA will not discuss the mission activities of Federal Air Marshals,” Pascarella said in an email.

As NJ Advance Media noted, this was not the first embarrassing incident to befall the Air Marshal Service, which in 2012 had eight New York-based marshals fired by the TSA for drinking on duty at a restaurant (one of the marshals in the party asked the restaurant for a discount).

Last month, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported that the TSA would give breathalyzer tests to some on-duty air marshals before they boarded assigned planes. CIR’s Reveal News has reported extensively on what one former agent described as a “spring break” culture within the agency that CIR reported was “rife with adultery, prostitution and other misconduct.”

A February CIR report alleged that some air marshals had their flight schedules rearranged to accommodate “sexual trysts” and routes to cities they liked better. CIR’s reporting has helped spark a probe by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, while the Air Marshal Service is also reportedly facing an internal inquiry and criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

In 2006, an air marshal dropped a clip of bullets on the floor of a Southwest Airlines flight just before it was supposed to take off, while there have been multiple reports in recent years of drunken abuses by air marshals. A 2008 ProPublica investigation found that more than three-dozen federal air marshals had been charged with crimes—including one case of child sexual abuse charges and another of an agent attempting to hire a hit man to kill a spouse—while hundreds of others have been accused of misconduct.

The Air Marshal Service, whose agents pose as ordinary passengers in order to try to protect flights from potential threats, has a reported annual budget of around $800 million.