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Customs Officers At Newark Airport Accused Of 'Rape Table' Hazing, Assaulting 2 Colleagues

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are accused of abusively hazing two other officers at Newark Liberty International Airport, including claims that victims were duct-taped to a "rape table'' and then grabbed.

Federal prosecutors said 38-year-old Tito Catota, of Newark; 40-year-old Parmenio Perez, of Paterson, and 32-year-old Michael Papagni, of West Orange, were all arrested Wednesday.

They are due to make their initial court appearances later in the day.


All three are charged with forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating, and interfering with the two victims. It's not known if they've retained lawyers.

The three were part of a team responsible for finding contraband in the airport, but instead prosecutors claim they acted like a gang, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reports.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said they "allegedly subjected their own colleagues to senseless physical abuse, all while on duty."

"This behavior would be abhorrent in any environment, especially one serving a critical law enforcement function," Fitzpatrick said. "The hard working men and women who protect our borders deserve better."

Officials have said senior officers would allegedly take newer officers into a secure room, threw them on an office table known as the "rape table" and grinded against their genital areas.

Officers who say they were hazing victims claim the abuse happened for years.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection welcomes these indictments and fully supported the Office of the Inspector General-led investigation with Special Agents from our Office of Professional Responsibility," a CBP spokesperson said Wednesday. "We do not tolerate misconduct in our ranks and are committed to a safe workplace environment free of harassment or intimidation."

The defendants face a maximum of eight years in prison and $250,000 fine if convicted.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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