Cruise employee accused of stealing $400,000 in cash

Posted: Sunday, August 13, 2006

KETCHIKAN - A former Princess Cruises employee accused of stealing $400,000 from a ship's safe was charged on Friday in a Ketchikan court.

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Elisha Cuffe, 32, who had worked for the company for 10 years, had taken the money to her cabin and stashed it in a shoebox at the foot of her bed. The Australia resident, whose job as a purser exposed her at times to $1.5 million in cash, was charged with first-degree theft.

Cuffe told authorities she noticed the ship's computer was not showing the correct amount of money in the safe, so she took it.

She told them she had not been planning to take the money off the ship.

The ship's staff found the money during an internal investigation on Thursday.

The ship's officers told authorities that in May they had started noticing some accounting discrepancies on board.

Alaska State Trooper Gary Webb, who is based out of Ketchikan, said crime on cruise ships is unusual.

"I think everyone is pretty surprised at the amount of money recovered," Webb said.

Cuffe appeared in Ketchikan District Court on Friday, where bail was set at $30,000.

She declined to have authorities contact the Australian consulate, Alaska State Troopers said. The passport belonging to the New South Wales resident was seized and turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said authorities were considering federal charges of transferring stolen money through international waters.

The 2,670-passenger ship travels between Vancouver and Whittier through the Inside Passage.

Lines back to normal at Seattle airport

SEATTLE - One day after new security rules caused record-breaking lines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, things were back to normal Friday, airport officials said.

The longest wait in a security line all day was about 45 minutes at one checkpoint at the beginning of the day, said airport spokesman Bob Parker.

He blamed that delay on passengers who were so concerned about Thursday's delays that they arrived at the airport before ticket counters were even open. When the counters opened, people checked their luggage and rushed to the security line, causing a temporary bottleneck there.

"The line did back up onto the sky bridge and then it just quickly evaporated," Parker said.

For the rest of the day, crowds were minimal.

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