14 September, 2017
A city man was among three people arrested Wednesday morning and charged with assaulting two fellow Customs and Border Protection officers at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to acting USA attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.
For years, veteran agents would inflict the abuse on new officers in a sordid initiation ceremony, federal prosecutors say. The assaults occurred as early as October 2016 and happened in the PERT office.
Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said they "allegedly subjected their own colleagues to senseless physical abuse, all while on duty".
According to the allegation by one victim, the victim was only worked with the team for only two weeks when he got to know that the conference table had been used as "rape table", officer Papagni told him that.
Three months later, the victim was asked to retrieve and forward a drug seizure document.
The men attacked two fellow customs officers on top of what they referred to as a "rape table" in an office inside Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport, authorities said.
The third incident detailed in the court documents is listed on January 10: Papagni saw "Victim One" in the PERT office and told him he had to leave or find out "what this team was about". One of the three officers got on top of the victim and simulated a sex act. Moments later, the lights in the office were shut and Catota and Papagni grabbed the arms and legs of "Victim One". Victim One unsuccessfully attempted to push Perez off his body.
On Nov. 30, 2016, the second victim, who was assigned to the Port Director staff, went to the office. The victim started to walk, but the door was closed. At some point during that encounter, the complaint alleges, Papagni and two other officers threw victim one on a table, carrying out a physical and sexual assault. Catota, Papagni, and Perez allegedly grabbed and threw him on the "rape table". The complaint stated that while two of the defendants held the victim down on the table, the other defendant got on top of the victim and moved in a motion that simulated a sex act. It was unclear if they had lawyers. "This behavior would be abhorrent in any environment, especially one serving a critical law enforcement function".
Both counts in the complaint carry a maximum potential penalty of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.