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Ex-baggage handler at airport gets probation for aid to drug peddlers

A former baggage handler at Buffalo Niagara International Airport was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny to 30 months of probation.

James Phillips, 31, of Buffalo, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government.

Phillips, in a plea agreement negotiated by Assistant U.S. Attorney George Burgasser, admitted using his position at the airport in early 2011 to help two of his co-defendants evade airport security.

Phillips said he delivered a bag, later found to contain $162,300 in cash, to an airport bathroom, where it was picked up one of the other two men. Prosecutors say the cash was part of conspiracy to sell cocaine in Buffalo.