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TSA Screeners Fired In Groping Scandal Both In 20s, No Criminal Records

DENVER (CBS4) - The two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport fired for engaging in what one confessed was a groping conspiracy are both in their 20s, both with clean criminal records, and both are refusing to discuss the bizarre conspiracy that got them fired.

Law enforcement and TSA sources identify the fired male TSA agent as Ty Spicha, 27, and the female agent as Yasmeen Shafi, 22. Neither has responded to calls, emails, text messages or personal visits from CBS4 to discuss the "pat downs for pleasure" that cost them their jobs and triggered a national uproar.

Ty Spicha
Ty Spicha (credit CBS)

Both Shafi and Spicha's Facebook pages were taken down after CBS4 began trying to contact them.

Spicha and Shafi were terminated earlier this year after TSA officials concluded the pair were manipulating screening systems at DIA so that Spicha -- who is originally from Nebraska -- could fondle male passengers who he found "attractive."

Yasmeen Shafi
Yasmeen Shafi (credit CBS)

According to police reports obtained by CBS4, last November an anonymous TSA employee told supervisors that Spicha had admitted to an unnamed colleague that he was involved in rigging the security system so Spicha could pat down male travelers. Three months after the tip, a TSA investigator says he watched as Spicha gave some sort of signal to Shafi who then intentionally inputted that a passenger going through a security scanner was a female, when in fact it was a male passenger. That triggered the scanner to signal an anomaly with the passenger's genitals, which then allowed Spicha to conduct a hands-on pat down search of the man's crotch and buttocks with an open palm -- contrary to TSA procedures. TSA said the man was traveling on Southwest Airlines but that they never contacted him or identified him.

Following that incident, the TSA investigator interviewed Shafi, who he said confessed to the plot, revealing she had done it approximately 10 times so that Spicha could conduct pat downs on desirable male passengers. Both employees were fired.

TSA has refused to identify the workers, refused to answer questions, refused to release any reports, and refused to release videotape of what the TSA investigator observed.

A former TSA worker at DIA, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Shafi and Spicha were part of a group of Denver workers who group texted while at work. He said he was surprised that Spicha was accused of gaming the system.

Ty Spicha
Ty Spicha (credit CBS)

"He always seemed like a straight shooter. I never got that vibe from him," said the former TSA employee.

At Shafi's Thornton home last week, family members told CBS4 Yasmeen Shafi had previously worked for TSA but was now working for a different company. Court records show Shafi, who was born in Colorado, has never been arrested and has only been cited for speeding in 2014.

Spicha has a similarly clean record, with no Colorado arrests and one traffic citation in 2014. He moved to Colorado from Nebraska, where he attended the University of Nebraska and graduated in 2011.

Spicha did not respond to electronic messages or phone calls from CBS4. Spicha's brother also did not respond after being contacted by CBS4.

Although the Denver District Attorney's Office in early April said it would not pursue sex offense charges since no victims had been identified, after the story broke on CBS4 prosecutors said they were reexamining the case with a broader view -- not necessarily focusing on sex offenses, but on whether or not Spicha or Shafi could face other criminal charges.

Douglas Kidd, President of the National Association of Airline Passengers, said he wasn't shocked at what the CBS4 investigation revealed.

"Groping takes place all the time, at all airports. It doesn't happen to every passenger," said Kidd. "But it does happen on occasion. It happens at Denver, it happens at Phoenix, it happens at Washington -- you have employees everywhere who are not properly supervised and a lack of discipline by TSA management when things are done inappropriately."

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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