Three former technicians who installed and repaired security cameras at McCarran International Airport pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of stealing electronic gear.
All three technicians — Matthew Charniga, 39, Joseph Cordova, 35, and their supervisor, Chad Norton, 34 — have been fired because of the criminal investigation.
District Judge Jessie Walsh set a July 11 status check to come up with a trial date that can accommodate the busy schedules of their prominent defense attorneys, John Momot, Thomas Pitaro and William Terry.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Staudaher sought bail for the defendants, but the defense lawyers persuaded Wash to allow them to remain free on their personal recognizance.
Prosecutors obtained an indictment against the three men last month, charging them with conspiracy, burglary and theft. Airport officials had reported they bought high-tech universal remotes and other electronic equipment for themselves using airport purchase orders.
Charniga, a felon who pleaded guilty in 1994 to voluntary manslaughter in a shooting death, also faces a felony weapons possession charge.
The value of the equipment the defendants are charged with stealing is about $2,800, but investigators suspect the thefts might have occurred for several years. Investigators also discovered evidence of tampering with a surveillance camera watching over the building on the county-run airport’s grounds where the technicians worked. Some video had been erased.
All three defendants worked at McCarran’s Information Systems Division, which has about 80 employees who provide technical help to airport departments. Among their duties, the technicians worked on cameras in the baggage claim area and on those outside the airport.
The technicians did not have routine access to surveillance cameras in the airport’s secure area or passenger checkpoints controlled by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, officials have said.
Contact reporter Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.