In a sudden move that has the aviation industry in shock the Transportation Security Administration on April 28 replaced Col. Adolph P. Sgambelluri with a man from Hawaii.

Sgambelluri’s last day of work was due to be May 8.

The position of U.S. federal security director in Guam was originally offered to the son of the chairman of the board of the Guam International Airport Authority.

Terms and conditions had already been agreed with Frank F. Blas Jr. presently homeland security adviser for Guam at the Guam Office of Homeland Security and son of Frank F. Blas chairman of the Guam International Airport Authority. Blas was set to begin work on May 9.

Following Journal inquiries Frank F. Blas Sr. chairman of the Guam International Airport Authority told the Journal on April 28 that on April 27 the offer to his son had been withdrawn “for perceived conflict of interest.”

The chairman said “I am sorry TSA will not have the benefit of a young man who is very well qualified. It is a loss to the airport and a loss to the people of Guam.”

The TSA told the Journal on April 28 that it would be releasing a statement on April 29.” The statement dated-lined Washington D.C. said that “James Correa the federal security director at Kona and Hilo International Airports has been named interim federal security director at Antonio B. Wonpat [sic] Guam International Airport the Transportation Security Administration announced today.”

The release continues “Jimmy Correa embodies the professionalism and leadership qualities we value at TSA ” said Rear Adm. David M. Stone assistant secretary of homeland security for the Transportation Security Administration. “As one of our most experienced FSDs I am confident in his abilities to successfully lead screeners and work closely with the airport staff.”

Correa replaces Adolf Sgambelluri as the FSD for Guam. Sgambelluri has accepted a reassignment to the Western Area staff based in San Francisco.

TSA expects to announce a permanent FSD in the coming weeks.”

A reliable source at TSA in Guam told the Journal Sgambelluri had requested an extension from May 9 to June 30 in the position for medical reasons but had not received an answer back from TSA as of April 28. The source said — contrary to the TSA statement — Sgambelluri had not accepted the reassignment to San Francisco signed any contract with TSA or agreed to step down on May 8. The source further said Sgambelluri had in fact asked for a transfer to Saipan where a TSA position is vacant.

Sgambelluri is seeking legal advice. He declined to comment for this story but Curtis C. Van De Veld attorney and partner in Van De Veld Shimizu Canto & Fisher told the Journal Sgambelluri had contacted him. “He has asked me to assist him in reviewing the circumstances surrounding his employment at TSA.”

Some details surrounding the potential case remained unclear he said. “At this point in time I don’t have full and complete information to render a decision or opinion as to what legal rights Col. Sgambelluri can pursue.” However Van De Veld said “It appears to me he has been denied rights in his employment with TSA — not for any rational reason. While at the GIA as the FSD director he has done an admirable job and received two commendations. Recently his performance was reviewed by numerous inspections all of which indicated he was in full compliance with requirements.”

While Sgambelluri was offered an alternative position with the TSA in San Francisco Van De Veld said the ability of the TSA to make that offer was also in doubt. “They offered him a transfer to San Francisco. At this point in time I’m awaiting receipt of a copy of his employment agreement so I can review the propriety of that action.”

Van De Veld said he was aware an offer of employment had been made to Frank Blas Jr. “I’m also aware that person’s father sits as chairman of the board of the GIAA.”

The actual process of hiring a successor to Sgambelluri was an issue Van De Veld said and “what they [TSA] did to solicit applications for this job — whether he was competitively hired. When Sgambelluri was hired it went through a competitive process. Why did it not go through the same process now?” The qualifications of any successor to Sgambelluri would be scrutinized Van De Veld said as the position of TSA director required a college degree.

Frank Blas Jr. told the Journal that terms and conditions of his new position had been agreed and a date for him to begin as director. “The date is set for May 9. I am waiting for confirmation from TSA for the new assignment.”

Of reaction to his offer from TSA to replace Sgambelluri Blas Jr. said “There have been some individuals who are dismayed and disgruntled.

“At one time I worked with Col. Sgambelluri in the police department and I served with him at GCC [Guam Community College]. I respect the man. There is nothing that should be construed as me versus him. Col. Sgambelluri did a lot for the TSA and I will do a lot. Those individuals who are disgruntled should know that life goes on and we have to continue our jobs.”

The Journal spoke to Blas Jr. as he was heading out for an off-island conference. “I’m still homeland security adviser and I still need to do some work.”

Frank Blas Sr. told the Journal “I have not spoken about my son to anybody in TSA. I have nothing to do with the offer that is being made to my son. I sit as the chairman of the airport board. I have nothing to do with TSA because it’s a federal entity.

“He’s my son and he’s informed me of what’s going on but there’s nothing overt or otherwise about the offer that is being made. I would think my son was highly qualified for the position.”

The chairman said he had not communicated with TSA on the matter of the appointment of a director.

“The only communication I had was as chairman of the board basically on the issue of screening process and how we are going to pay for it. If anybody’s trying to stretch that they are entirely inaccurate and ill informed. I have nothing to do with the hiring and firing of the TSA director.”

The communication he referred to the chairman said was in the form of a letter in connection with an upcoming conference in Seattle Wash. which the chairman said was a meeting of airport executives at which the director for TSA from Washington D.C. — Adm. Stone — would be speaking. “I had sent a letter asking if it were humanly possible to talk about Guam International Airport at that time.”

Nico Melendez spokesman in Los Angeles for the TSA on April 27 said “TSA is unable to confirm a pending change in leadership at the international airport in Guam. Should an announcement become necessary it will be made as soon as is appropriate.”

Nestor Licanto stakeholder manager for TSA in Guam has worked with Sgambelluri for two years. He said of the story “I’m not sure if I can discuss that. It’s a personnel matter.”

There are approximately 158 federal security directors nationwide.

Sgambelluri retired as director of law enforcement for the U.S. Marines Corps worldwide after 26 years of military service. Since his return to Guam in 1980 he served in various positions including chief of police director of the Department of Corrections director of the Criminal Justice Academy and vice president of Guam Community College. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico Va. and holds a bachelor’s from Washington State University and a master’s of business administration from Pepperdine University.

Gov. Felix P. Camacho appointed Blas Jr. homeland security adviser for Guam in January 2003.

From patrol officer from 1983 to 1984 he rose at the Guam Police Department to officer-in-charge of the Special Investigations Section of the department from 1993 to 1996. Since that time he has acted as part-time professor with Guam Community College instructing courses in criminal justice and as a drug-free workplace consultant and assistant medical review officer for workplace drug testing. He was vice president of Frank Blas & Associates Inc. from August 1998 to October 2002.

Blas is a 1991 graduate of the Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Unit Commanders Academy at the DEA/FBI Training Center in Quantico Va. He has undergone training and certification in subjects that include medical review drug prevention enforcement and awareness and criminal investigation.MBJ