Man accused of attacking Customs agent at Philadelphia airport

Posted: August 31, 2012

An Italian national previously convicted in the assault of a New Jersey police officer was indicted Wednesday on charges that he attacked a Customs and Border Protection officer in May at Philadelphia International Airport, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said.

Francesco Riccio, 51, who lives in Philadelphia, was returning from Rome with his wife May 19 when he was detained at passport control. Riccio, a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1975, presented his passport but said his alien registration card had been stolen.

Officials ran his name through a database and discovered Riccio had been convicted in 2005 of assault on a police officer in New Jersey and convicted in 2009 of reckless endangerment, according to the indictment. Agents ruled that Riccio was barred from reentry to the United States due to "conviction or commission of a crime involving moral turpitude."

Riccio became furious and threatened to kill the Customs officers who had pulled him aside, and a fracas erupted when the officers prevented him from leaving the room to smoke a cigarette, the indictment states. Riccio was subdued after choking one of the officers, according to the indictment.

Riccio was later taken to Friends Hospital for psychiatric observation. If convicted of the assault, Riccio will be eligible for an eight-year federal prison sentence.


Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796, samwood@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @inqwriter.

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