Crime Watch

Port Authority Official from Wantagh indicted


A Wantagh woman has been indicted in Queens on charges of official misconduct for allegedly receiving “rewards” and “gratuities” while working as a Port Authority officer at JFK Airport.

Marlene Mizzi, 54, was charged with three felony counts and multiple misdemeanor counts for violating her duty as a public servant — a Port Authority official. She has been suspended from her job.

According to a release by NYS Attorney General Barbara Underwood, Mizzi allegedly took gifts and benefits from Joseph Jourieh, a Qatari government official, and other foreign government officials in exchange for providing special treatment.

Jourieh, 58, was charged with two counts of Rewarding Official Misconduct. The defendants each face a maximum sentence of up to four years if convicted on the top counts.

The indictments stem from a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and the Port Authority Inspector General’s Office.

“We have zero tolerance for those who violate the public trust for personal benefit,” said Attorney General Underwood. “The defendant used her position at the Port Authority for personal gain.”

Mizzi was a Port Authority employee for 35 years and, prior to her suspension earlier this year, worked as an Assistant Airport Duty Supervisor at John F. Kennedy Airport. Jourieh operates a company, East Coast Concierge, which works on behalf of the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations, arranging transportation and other services when government officials travel to New York.

During the annual United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, with airport security at a heightened state, Port Authority rules clearly state that foreign state aircraft must depart JFK within two hours of arrival and there is no overnight parking of foreign state aircraft. However, the Attorney General alleges that, from 2014 until she left the Port Authority in June 2018, Mizzi would unilaterally grant exceptions to these rules without proper approval, for certain foreign countries, most notably Qatar. During these years, Mizzi authorized numerous Qatari diplomatic planes to stay overnight during the United Nations General Assembly, sometimes for multiple days – allegedly in exchange for gifts and benefits from Jourieh. In 2014 and 2015, Jourieh arranged free limousine rides and meals for Mizzi, and provided her with a gift of a watch. In 2017, Mizzi received bottles of wine and other gifts from another foreign state’s representative in return for the same overnight parking privilege.

Michael Nestor, Inspector General for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said, “In this case, the defendant chose to enrich herself and tarnish the reputation of the agency by allegedly accepting cash, travel, meals and other things of value from representatives of foreign governments. The Port Authority will not tolerate employee misconduct or corruption of any kind.”