WASHINGTON – Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today that two former public officials were sentenced for their roles in a widespread bribery and extortion conspiracy which operated from January 2002 through March 2004. The defendants were sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona by the Honorable Cynthia K. Jorgenson.
The two sentenced today were:
Joy McBrayer Graham, 37, a former Arizona Army National Guardswoman, who was sentenced to four years probation and a $3,000 fine.
Mark Ryan Shipley, 24, a civilian falsely purporting to be serving in the Arizona Army National Guard, who was sentenced to 24 months in prison, a $3,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
The charges arise from Operation Lively Green, an undercover investigation conducted by the FBI that began in December 2001. The individuals are the final two defendants to be sentenced as part of this operation. Fifty-four additional defendants have previously been sentenced.
The defendants had each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to enrich themselves by obtaining cash bribes from persons they believed to be narcotics traffickers - but who were in fact FBI special agents in return for the defendants using their official positions to assist, protect, and participate in the activities of an illegal narcotics trafficking organization engaged in the business of transporting and distributing cocaine from Arizona to other locations in the southwestern United States. In order to protect the shipments of cocaine, the defendants wore official uniforms, carried official forms of identification, used official vehicles, and used their color of authority where necessary to prevent police stops, searches and seizures of the narcotics as they drove the cocaine shipments on highways that passed through checkpoints manned by the U.S. Border Patrol, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and Nevada law enforcement officers.
These cases are part of a joint investigation conducted by the Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force (SACTF), which is comprised of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security, and the Tucson Police Department. Though not part of the SACTF, the Arizona Air National Guard, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service also participated in the investigation. The cases were prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Michael Ferrara, Andrew Levchuk, and Peter Koski of the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section, headed by Chief William M. Welch II. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma has also secured the guilty pleas of 14 defendants in a related investigation, Operation Tarnished Star.