A Nigerian man who worked as a security supervisor at Newark Airport in New Jersey stole the identity of a man murdered in Queens two decades ago to hide his illegal immigration status, officials charged Monday.
On July 20 of that year, Jerry Thomas, 41, was found shot dead in the head and chest inside a room at the Jamaica YMCA, according to a Daily News report. He was one of 12 people who were murdered in Queens that weekend.
Oyewole had immigrated illegally to the U.S. three years before finding work at the airport, officials said.
He was arrested at his home in Elizabeth, N.J., Monday morning after an anonymous tip to the Port Authority several weeks ago lead to an investigation. He faces charges including identity theft and was awaiting arraignment Monday night.
Port Authority investigators do not believe Oyewole masqueraded as Thomas for any other reason than to gain employment as an illegal immigrant.
“If there was any other nefarious activity, it would have come up on his very frequent background checks,” said Steve Coleman, a spokesperson for the Port Authority.
Oyewole worked at the airport under several contractors, most recently for FJC Security Services, starting in 2003, where he supervised about 30 guards, officials said.
When FJC hired him in 2003, company officials reviewed his birth certificate and social security card, according to a company spokesman.
The New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection also vetted him.
“During his time with FJC, he had nothing in his record or his performance to indicate a cause for concern, or a reason to question the State Police and federal government’s background checks,” said FJC spokesman Michael McKeon in a statement.