On Continental Micronesia’s CO1 from Hawaii on May 7 was Frank F. Blas chairman of the Guam International Airport returning from a Seattle Wash. airport executives’ conference. Blas was unaware that James Correa federal security director for the Transport Security Administration in Hilo and Kona Hawaii was arriving to take up the position of interim federal security director for Guam.
Meeting the flight was Adolph P. Sgambelluri who Correa will replace. Sgambelluri and Blas saw each other as Blas exited the secure side of the airport but did not greet each other.
Sgambelluri said “Jimmy is a friend of mine. He’s a good guy.”
Sgambelluri’s departure from the job was accompanied by a TSA offer to Frank F. Blas Jr. homeland security adviser for Guam at the Guam Office of Homeland Security and the chairman’s son to replace him. The TSA withdrew that offer on April 27 for “perceived conflict of interest ” after the Journal began its investigation. An April 29 release from TSA in Los Angeles stated Sgambelluri had accepted reassignment to San Francisco which Sgambelluri denies.
The Journal broke the story of TSA’s sudden replacement of Sgambelluri in an April 28 newsflash to subscribers and other media organizations in Micronesia after it had been advised by the TSA that there would be a release on April 29. A full version of the story appeared in the subsequent edition of the Journal (See “TSA turbulence” in the May 2 issue of the Journal.).
Correa told the Journal he did not expect to take up the Guam position. “I have a permanent position in Hilo and Kona.” He will hold the interim Guam position for an as yet undetermined amount of time. “TSA will go through a recruitment process and when a replacement is named they will advise me. I don’t have any idea as to the timeline right now ” he said. This is Correa’s first visit to Guam he said.
He would be happy to meet with the Journal for an update on TSA travel requirements Correa said. “At that time I can probably address some of the concerns and issues that the public may have.”
Sgambelluri broke silence and told the Journal “I will be pursuing legal action. Aside from defamation of character I will be suing for interference and interruption of economic benefits. I do intend to prevail in a court of law for what was done to me. Sgambelluri intends to get even.”
Sgambelluri said his removal had been premeditated. “I have information that at least four people conspired to remove me from here.
“I cannot identify the people now but they are four people in high places at the airport. They’ll know who they are.”
The former director said that the alleged attempt to remove him had been for two reasons — to replace him in the job with Blas Jr. and to rid the airport’s stakeholders of his tough policy on federal compliance “for enforcing federal laws at the airport.”
That Blas Jr. was to replace him he said was done surreptitiously. “No announcement was made. I’d not even vacated the job.
“There were no interviews. It was not even competitive. I went through a nationwide search to get this job. I didn’t go to Frank Blas (Sr.); I didn’t go to the governor. I applied on the Internet and then I was called.
The governor’s office had been involved in the effort to replace him he alleged. “The governor was going round a couple of months ago asking ‘Has Sgambelluri been fired?’ What was that about?”
The governor’s office said that the governor had actually praised Sgambelluri’s execution of his job.
According to Journal sources of the 158 federal security directors 81 are K level —the level held by Sgambelluri — and below. There were sources said “129 000 valid and qualified applicants” for the posts of the 158 directors. A sample announcement posted on http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov for federal security director for General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee Wis. was also a K level position and has an annual salary range from $78 900 to $122 300. That amount did not include a locality pay of 13.62% and other benefits.
The announcement said “All applicants must demonstrate one year of specialized experience equivalent to that of the next lower grade or level in the Federal Service. For the SV-K band applicants must have one year of supervisory security work equivalent to SV-J pay band (GS-14 level) or higher gained in the Federal government or private sector. Specialized experience is defined as experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge skills and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position and is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled. Such experience will include tactical planning execution and operating management for coordinated security services.”
Sgambelluri said his position had been won on merit. “Nobody helped me in terms of getting this job. The position of federal security director on Guam had attracted applications from “other people all over the mainland ‘ Sgambelluri said as well as applications from Guam including that of Ronald Dervish deputy chief of police at the Guam Police Department.
Special Agent John Henderson of the office of the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had been in Guam for a week investigating Sgambelluri said. Henderson had departed May 2. “He spoke to me for about three hours and to my staff. He even spoke to Fred Black (Frederick A. Black assistant U.S. attorney in the Guam office of the U.S. attorney general). He was checking up on a perceived notion that there was political corruption at the airport.”
Michael P. Jackson deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had sent Henderson to Guam Sgambelluri said.
Additionally Sgambelluri said ‘I have documentation on the people identified as violating federal laws to increase membership of the Guam customs.” The individuals he said are “two members of the government – two members of management; and two law enforcement officials. They are all at the airport. What they tried to do is unethical.”
Sgambelluri alleged there had been attempts to enter personnel into positions at the Guam Department of Customs without background investigations. He said those attempts ceased when he drew attention to the irregularities. “Sgambelluri was an impediment so Sgambelluri had to go ” he said.
The damages he would seek he said “Will probably pay for my house.”
Sgambelluri had asked for an extension of his Guam position until June 30 but did not receive a response from TSA he said.
The offer to him of a job in San Francisco was in fact a job with “more responsibility ” and carried with it a 2% salary increase. The position was as action officer for the West Side region responsible for 150 airports. However he said “My contract didn’t say I would be reassigned later on. I just want to stay home [on Guam].”
Since the Journal story broke Sgambelluri said “I have received several phone calls offering me jobs. Somebody called me up to run for governor.” MBJ