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Ex-TSA officer fakes cancer to receive paid leave

Marc Bess admitted in federal court to faking a cancer diagnosis and receiving donated leave hours from his colleagues.
Marc Bess is accused of faking a cancer diagnosis to receive paid leave hours from his TSA colleagues.

ATLANTA -- A former TSA officer for Atlanta's airport admitted in federal court to faking a cancer diagnosis so he could receive donated leave hours from his colleagues.

Marc Bess, 42, pleaded guilty to theft of government funds and was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison. He must also spend three years on supervised release and pay $62,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors said Bess began his scheme in September 2009. He submitted three applications and several doctor's notes to the TSA, claiming he was being treated for abdominal cancer. The letters described the radiation therapy and surgical procedures the defendant had supposedly undergone.

In reality, Bess was never diagnosed with cancer, prosecutors said. Investigators later determined at least two of Bess's notes were dated several months after the doctor who purportedly wrote them passed away.

The TSA has a program that allows its employees to give paid leave hours to others. In order to receive donated hours, an employee must submit a written application describing the medical emergency and supporting documents from a physician.

Bess's phony letters and applications allowed his coworkers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to give him a total of about 2,240 hours of paid leave over five years. The TSA paid Bess an estimated $60,000 in salary and benefits while he took time off from work.

Bess submitted his final fake doctor's letter in December 2014. His resigned in January 2015 after his fraud came to light.

Two TSA employees who donated leave hours to Bess addressed the court during Monday's sentencing hearing.