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Raychas Thomas

REDWOOD CITY -- An ex-United Airlines employee and his wife were convicted Monday of stealing an East Bay couple's luggage during the chaos of the Asiana plane crash at SFO, then returning the belongings to Nordstrom for a $5,000 payout.

Richmond residents Sean Sharif Crudup, 44, a former United Airlines customer service agent, and his wife, Raychas Elizabeth Thomas, 32, pleaded no contest on grand theft and second-degree burglary charges on condition they receive no state prison time and less than one year in county jail, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The pair was accused of stealing an unidentified couple's baggage from San Francisco International Airport July 8 while the travelers were diverted to Southern California because of the plane crash.

While the flight was two days after the crash of Asiana Flight 214, the ongoing investigation and cleanup disrupted flights for days. The victims were redirected to Los Angeles during their flight to San Francisco, but their baggage made it to SFO as scheduled.

The displaced couple drove back to the Bay Area in a rental car and arrived to find only five of their six bags waiting for them at the airport, Wagstaffe said. Surveillance video later revealed footage of Crudup taking the bag in a public area and handing it to Thomas and another woman, who was not charged in the case.


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Prosecutors said the pair went through the victims' bags and removed various pieces of expensive clothing that still had tags attached, then returned them to a Pleasanton Nordstrom for about $5,000 in cash. A search of Crudup and Thomas' Richmond home reportedly turned up more of the victims' belongings that could not be returned to the Nordstrom store.

The couple were arrested in late July as Thomas was catching a flight to Hawaii, Wagstaffe said.

Crudup was the second United Airlines employee to be arrested in 2013 on suspicion of stealing passengers' belongings. George Reyes, one of the airline's former baggage handlers, was sentenced in August to six months in jail after police said they caught him in May stealing valuables such as iPads out of travelers' bags at SFO.

Crudup and Thomas remain out of custody on a $75,000 and $50,000 bail bond, respectively, Wagstaffe said. They will return to court to receive their sentence on May 13.

Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.