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Astoria woman busted for assaulting customs agent with karate chop at JFK Airport: Feds

Aug. 30, 2023 By Bill Parry

An Astoria woman was arrested by federal agents and charged with assaulting one of their own with a karate chop that was caught on surveillance video at JFK Airport last week.

Emilia Mathias, 57, of Steinway Street in Astoria, had just returned from a trip to Brazil and was making her way through Terminal 4 when she was stopped by a female U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer on Tuesday, Aug. 22, according to the criminal complaint. The agent told Mathias that she could not enter the secured area and tried to get her to turn back. Mathias refused and a number of CBP officers tried to physically escort her away from the secured area.

Surveillance video shows Mathias gesturing in the opposite direction that other passengers are walking from when the CBP officer can be seen touching Mathias while directing her to a door that the passengers are walking through, at which point Mathias can be seen “making a chopping motion with her hand and striking the CBP officer in the neck,” according to court documents.

Emilia Mathias was wearing an orange sweater when she was seen on surveillance video “forcibly assaulting” a CBP officer with a chop to her neck, according to a criminal complaint.Photo courtesy of EDNY

She was taken into custody and explained to CBP officers that she had been tired after a long flight from Brazil and was looking for her luggage when someone directed her toward the CBP-controlled area of Terminal 4. She further stated that she had wanted to defend herself and knew she had done a bad thing, according to the complaint.

Mathias was arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on Aug. 28 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes, who ordered her released on a $1,000 bond. Mathias faces up to eight years in prison if convicted of the assault, according to federal prosecutors.

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