REDWOOD CITY -- An ex-United Airlines employee and his wife pleaded not guilty in Superior Court Tuesday to stealing an East Bay couple's luggage during the chaos of the Asiana plane crash at SFO and then returning the belongings to Nordstrom for a $5,000 payout.
Sean Sharif Crudup, 44, a former United Airlines customer service agent, and his wife, Raychas Elizabeth Thomas, 32, will face a jury in April on grand theft and second-degree burglary charges, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. The two reportedly stole the baggage from San Francisco International Airport while the unidentified couple were redirected to Los Angeles during their July 8 flight to San Francisco. That flight was two days after the crash of Asiana Flight 214, but the ongoing investigation and cleanup disrupted flights for days.
Though the victims were diverted because of the crash, their baggage made it to SFO as scheduled, Wagstaffe said. The couple, who drove back to the Bay Area in a rental car, arrived to find only five of their six bags waiting for them at the airport.
Surveillance video later revealed footage of Crudup stealing the bag in a public area and handing it to Thomas and another woman, who was not charged in the case.
Prosecutors said the pair went through the victims' bags and removed various pieces of expensive clothing that still had tags attached, then returned them to a Pleasanton Nordstrom for about $5,000 in cash. A search of Crudup and Thomas' Richmond home reportedly turned up more of the victims' belongings that could not be returned to the Nordstrom store.
The couple were arrested in late July as Thomas was catching a flight to Hawaii, Wagstaffe said. Crudup and Thomas have since posted bail, and remain out of custody on a $75,000 and $50,000 bail bond, respectively.
Crudup was not the first United Airlines employee to be arrested this year on suspicion of stealing passengers' belongings, authorities said. George Reyes, one of the airline's former baggage handlers, was sentenced in August to six months in jail after police said they caught him in May stealing valuables such as iPads out of travelers' bags at SFO.