An air traffic control tower stands above the tarmac at...

An air traffic control tower stands above the tarmac at terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday, May 24, 2013. Credit: Bloomberg / Scott Eells

An air traffic controller from Long Island was charged in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday in a scheme to steal more than $170,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration by manipulating payroll records.

Kennedy Airport controllers Jeffrey Evagues, 54, of Manorville and Asof Ali, 38, of Queens are charged with modifying computer records at least 300 times from 2011 to 2014 to indicate they worked when they were in fact out sick, on vacation or taking weekly time off, records show.

Evagues, according to a criminal complaint, made an entry Feb. 22 to indicate he worked eight hours on Feb. 9, when his cellphone records indicated he was in Mililani, Hawaii, 4,900 miles away. He was paid $578.16 for the time he didn't work, prosecutors said.

The government said it had security camera footage showing Evagues and Ali entering the room with the payroll computer at Kennedy Airport minutes before the time when modifications were made in their records.

Evagues, a 27-year FAA employee who has been at Kennedy Airport since 2002, claimed unearned pay of $87,000, the government charged. Ali, who has been at Kennedy since 2009, took $83,000, according to authorities.

Both men were arrested Thursday and charged with stealing federal employee benefits and payroll. They were released on bail after a court appearance. Their attorneys did not return calls for comment.

"For three years these air traffic controllers engaged in a high-flying scheme to redirect public funds into their own bank accounts," Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "Today they were grounded."

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