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Man arrested after New York hotel employee sickened after cleaning powdery substance

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Posted at 3:07 PM, Nov 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-30 15:11:58-05

NEW YORK CITY — Authorities in New York City announced that a man accused of leaving a suspicious powdery substance at a luxury hotel on Monday had been arrested, according to multiple news reports.

CBS News and WABC reported that police arrested 55-year-old John Taddei and charged him with theft and criminal trespassing.

During a press conference Tuesday evening, New York Police Department Assistant Chief James McCarthy said at around 1:20 p.m., a woman working at the hotel began feeling nauseous and was taken to a nearby hospital.

According to the news outlets, the incident happened at the Park Hyatt Hotel.

While at the hospital, the woman said she began feeling sick shortly after cleaning a white powdery substance in the bathroom, McCarthy said.

Officers responded to the hotel and began checking the room to determine what the substance was.

"Since the substance had been cleaned and was no longer visible in the bathroom the fire department swabbed various surfaces in the bathroom which indicated
that there was a possible trace of an explosive substance," McCarthy told reporters.

Officers then evacuated the entire 11th floor as a precaution, McCarthy said.

Investigators entered the room and began testing multiple surfaces in the room, McCarthy said.

“All subsequent tests of the surfaces were met with negative results,” the assistant chief said. “There were no trace amounts of hazardous materials detected. At this time we feel that the earlier test results were a false positive.”

As officers continued their investigation, police were able to identify the suspect by using video surveillance after he gained unauthorized access to the room, McCarthy said.

Investigators believe the man got into the room after a family, who had been staying in the room prior, may have dropped one of the five keys allocated to them and the man picked it up, McCarthy told reporters.

The family checked out at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, and at 8:20 p.m., someone swiped into the room, McCarthy said.

McCarthy told reporters that video showed the suspect leaving the hotel around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The assistant chief said the suspect had previously been arrested 16 times for low-level crimes.

According to the news outlets, the hotel is investigating why the key wasn't deactivated when the family checked out, WABC reported.

The hotel employee is expected to survive, the news outlets reported.