Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 2000 - September 30, 2000
THE INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION
||The Investigations Division investigates allegations of bribery, fraud, abuse, civil rights violations, and violations of other laws and procedures that govern Department of Justice employees, contractors, and grantees.
The Investigations Division (Investigations) investigates allegations of bribery, fraud, abuse, civil rights violations, and violations of other laws and procedures that govern Department employees, contractors, and grantees. Investigations develops cases for criminal prosecution and civil and administrative action. In many instances, the OIG refers less serious allegations to components within the Department for appropriate action and, in the more important cases that are referred, reviews their findings and disciplinary action taken.
Investigations carries out its mission through the work of its special agents who are assigned to offices across the country. Currently, Investigations has field offices in Chicago, El Paso, Los Angeles, McAllen, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Tucson, and Washington, D.C. (the Washington Field Office and Fraud Detection Office), and smaller, area offices in Atlanta, Boston, Colorado Springs, Dallas, El Centro, Houston, and Seattle. Investigations Headquarters, in Washington, D.C., consists of the immediate office of the Assistant Inspector General and three branches: Operations, Investigative Support, and Policy and Administration.
Geographic areas covered by the field offices are indicated on the map below. In addition, the San Francisco office covers Alaska; the San Diego office covers Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa; and the Miami office covers Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
During this reporting period, Investigations received 4,432 complaints. It opened 282 investigations and closed 254. It made 81 arrests involving 31 Department employees, 39 civilians, and 11 Department contract personnel. Convictions resulted in 56 individuals receiving sentences ranging from probation to more than 12 years' incarceration and fines, recoveries, and orders of restitution totaling $856,366. As a result of OIG investigations, 11 employees and 4 contract employees received disciplinary action, including 9 who were terminated. In addition, 31 employees and 11 contract employees resigned either during or at the conclusion of the investigations.
Following are some of the cases investigated during this reporting period.
- A former INS immigration inspector assigned to the Columbus, New Mexico, Port of Entry (POE) was sentenced to 12 years' incarceration and 5 years' supervised release following his guilty plea to charges of bribery of a public official and conspiracy to import more than 10 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. An investigation by the Las Cruces, New Mexico, Task Force, consisting of the U.S. Customs Office of Internal Affairs, FBI, and OIG El Paso Field Office, developed evidence that, in exchange for $20,000, the former immigration inspector allowed vehicles to enter the United States from Mexico without inspection. His wife pled guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine and was sentenced to 61
- In the Central District of California, agents from the OIG Los Angeles Field Office and FBI arrested an INS special agent assigned to the INS Los Angeles District Office Anti-Smuggling Unit and a civilian on charges of conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the United States. A third individual, already in federal prison on an unrelated drug smuggling charge, was charged with conspiracy. The joint investigation revealed a scheme in which the corrupt INS special agent released previously smuggled illegal aliens from the custody of the INS to his co-defendants, who then held them for ransom paid by the illegal aliens' relatives. Allegedly, the INS special agent agreed to participate in this scheme to pay a debt he owed to one of his co-defendants. All three defendants pled guilty and await sentencing.
- In the Southern District of New York, an INS information officer assigned to the New York District Office, a General Services Administration (GSA) contract security guard, and a civilian document vendor were arrested on charges of bribery. An investigation by the OIG New York Field Office and the GSA OIG led to a criminal complaint alleging that the GSA contract security guard and the civilian document vendor paid the INS information officer more than $2,600 for providing Central Index System printouts and for placing ADIT stamps in the passports of aliens not entitled to such documentation. The INS information officer pled guilty and awaits sentencing. Judicial proceedings continue for the two co-defendants.
- An INS supervisory district adjudications officer in the Eastern District of California was arrested and pled guilty to charges of bribery of a public official. An investigation by the OIG San Francisco Field Office, assisted by the INS, disclosed that the adjudications officer, working through two civilian middlemen, accepted bribes to expedite naturalization applications for certain aliens. The middlemen were subsequently arrested on bribery and conspiracy charges and await trial. INS terminated the supervisory adjudications officer. He pled guilty and awaits sentencing.
- In the District of Massachusetts, an INS district adjudications officer assigned to the Boston District Office was arrested on charges of bribery. An investigation by the OIG Boston Area Office, assisted by the FBI and other federal agencies, led to a criminal complaint alleging that the district adjudications officer demanded and accepted approximately $5,000 in bribes in exchange for granting citizenship to a naturalization candidate and removing all references to the candidate's arrest history from his alien file. The complaint further alleges that the district adjudications officer offered to assist an undercover agent with naturalization candidates for $1,000 apiece and offered to assist doctors with obtaining employment with the INS, also for $1,000 apiece. Judicial proceedings continue.
- A Border Patrol agent assigned to the Bakersfield, California, Border Patrol Station was indicted and arrested in the Eastern District of California on charges of conspiracy to take a bribe by a public official, interference with commerce by extortion, and making false statements. A San Francisco Field Office investigation revealed that the Border Patrol agent entered into an agreement with a local towing company to use its towing service exclusively in exchange for a $25 kickback for each vehicle towed on the Border Patrol agent's orders. The investigation revealed that, between May 1998 and July 1999, the towing company towed approximately 180 vehicles at the Border Patrol agent's direction. Judicial proceedings continue.
- An investigation conducted by the OIG Miami Field Office and the INS in the U.S. Virgin Islands resulted in the arrest of an INS immigration inspector assigned to the International Airport in St. Croix on charges of bribery and visa fraud. This joint investigation led to an indictment alleging that the immigration inspector conspired with a civilian recruiter to solicit and accept cash bribes of $500 to $1,000 from illegal aliens to place ADIT stamps in their passports. Judicial proceedings continue.
- Our September 1999 Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in which a former INS immigration inspector assigned to the San Ysidro POE was arrested on federal racketeering charges, alien smuggling, and importation of a controlled substance. During this reporting period, the former immigration inspector was convicted on all charges following a jury trial in the Southern District of California. This investigation was initiated by the OIG San Diego Field Office and investigated by the San Diego BCTF, of which the OIG is a member. The investigation developed evidence that the former immigration inspector used his position to allow multiple loads of aliens and 3,500 pounds of marijuana to cross the border in exchange for approximately $350,000. He was sentenced to more than 12 years' incarceration and 5 years' supervised release, fined $1,200, and ordered to pay $19,571 in restitution.
Attempts To Corrupt Department Employees
- In the Northern District of Illinois, the Chicago Field Office arrested a civilian on charges of bribery of a public official. The investigation led to an indictment alleging that the civilian approached an INS clerk and offered money to verify the status of citizenship cases. The INS clerk reported the contact to the OIG. During a series of recorded undercover meetings and telephone calls, the civilian provided the INS clerk with jewelry, a pager, and more than $6,000 cash in return for the clerk arranging U.S. citizenship for foreign nationals. The civilian awaits trial.
- In the Northern District of Illinois, an alien was arrested on charges of bribery of a public official. An investigation by the OIG Chicago Field Office and Department of Education OIG led to an indictment alleging that the alien paid $300 to an INS special agent to overlook and approve a marriage that appeared to be fraudulent. This allowed the alien to obtain a Green Card and falsely obtain more than $37,000 in student aid from the Department of Education. Judicial proceedings continue.
- In the Eastern District of Washington, a civilian offered a $1,000 bribe to a Border Patrol agent to arrange the release of her boyfriend from INS custody. The Border Patrol agent promptly reported the bribe attempt to the OIG Seattle Area Office and agreed to assist in the ensuing investigation that resulted in the indictment and subsequent arrest of the civilian. The civilian admitted guilt and entered into pre-trial diversion under the condition that she successfully complete 12 months' probation.
Introduction of Contraband
- In the Western District of Oklahoma, a BOP cook supervisor assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in El Reno was arrested and pled guilty to charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. A joint investigation by the OIG Dallas Area Office, FBI, Oklahoma City Police Department, and the USAO developed evidence that the cook supervisor accepted one ounce of cocaine and one pound of marijuana in exchange for $2,100 and promised the undercover officers that he would deliver the drugs to an inmate incarcerated at FCI El Reno. The subject resigned his position with the BOP and was sentenced to 27 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release.
- A former BOP correctional officer assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas, and a civilian were arrested on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. An investigation by the Houston Area Office led to a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Texas alleging that an inmate was using the civilian to acquire drugs and provide them to the former correctional officer who, in exchange for cash, would bring the drugs into the penitentiary. On the night of the arrests, the civilian delivered more than 100 grams of heroin and crack cocaine to the former correctional officer and paid him $1,500 to smuggle them into the prison. Judicial proceedings continue.
- In the Southern District of California, a GSA security guard and a former GSA security guard assigned to the San Ysidro POE and a civilian were arrested by members of the San Diego BCTF pursuant to an indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to bring in illegal aliens for financial gain, possession of counterfeit INS documents, aiding and abetting, and the distribution of methamphetamine. In one incident, the current GSA security guard was videotaped smuggling a cooperating witness through the POE. During a search of the former GSA security guard's and civilian's residences, the investigators found items used to create counterfeit documents. The former GSA security guard and the civilian have pled guilty. The GSA security guard awaits trial.
- Our September 1999 Semiannual Report to Congress reported a case in which a former INS immigration inspector assigned to the San Ysidro POE was arrested on charges of alien smuggling. During this reporting period, the former INS immigration inspector was convicted following a weeklong trial and was sentenced in the Southern District of California to five years' incarceration and three years' supervised release. The San Diego Field Office developed evidence that the immigration inspector, while on duty, smuggled numerous illegal aliens into the United States in return for $1,500--$2,000.
- In the Southern District of Texas, a civilian narcotics smuggler and a Mexican national were arrested on multiple drug charges, including importation, possession, and intention to distribute. A joint OIG McAllen Field Office and FBI investigation into allegations that an INS immigration inspector had aided a narcotics smuggler in transporting drugs through the Pharr POE resulted in the seizure of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana. Judicial proceedings continue.
- Our September 1999 Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in the Southern District of Florida in which an INS detention enforcement officer was arrested on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. The detention enforcement officer later pled guilty to attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine, was terminated from the INS, and was sentenced to nine years' incarceration and five years' supervised release. This joint investigation conducted by the South Florida HIDTA and the OIG Miami Field Office revealed that the detention enforcement officer was part of a large narcotics smuggling ring at Miami International Airport (MIA) that smuggled sham narcotics from MIA to undercover DEA and Customs Service agents in Northeast cities.
- A former Border Patrol agent assigned to the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station was sentenced to one year of incarceration and three years' supervised release and ordered to register as a sex offender. The Border Patrol agent pled guilty to California State charges involving a minor. The OIG San Diego Field Office and Chula Vista Police Department initiated this joint investigation after receiving a complaint from the victim's parent. The Border Patrol agent resigned his position prior to being sentenced.
- In the Southern District of Florida, an INS detention enforcement officer was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting an INS detainee at the Krome Service Processing Center--the federal detention facility in western Miami-Dade County. An investigation by the OIG Miami Field Office led to an indictment alleging that the detention enforcement officer, while assigned to Krome, forcibly raped the detainee on two occasions. Judicial proceedings continue.
- A BOP correctional officer assigned to FCI Pekin was arrested and pled guilty to charges filed in the Central District of Illinois of abusive sexual contact with two inmates. During this Chicago Field Office investigation, the former correctional officer resigned her position, changed her name, and moved to Arizona. OIG special agents from Chicago and Tucson successfully located and arrested the former correctional officer at her Arizona residence.
- In the Northern District of Florida, a former correctional officer assigned to FCI Tallahassee was arrested and pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse of a ward. This OIG Miami Field Office investigation, assisted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, established that the former correctional officer engaged in a sexual relationship with an inmate. He was sentenced to 2 years' probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.
- A former BOP account technician assigned to FCI Miami was arrested as a result of two separate investigations conducted by the OIG Miami Field Office and FBI on charges of embezzlement and sexual abuse of an inmate. The first investigation led to an indictment filed in the Southern District of Florida alleging that the former account technician brought contraband into FCI Miami for an inmate and took $1,500 from the inmate's account. The second investigation revealed that the former account technician engaged in a sexual relationship with the inmate. Judicial proceedings continue.
- A BOP contract correctional officer assigned to the Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, California, was arrested pursuant to a criminal information filed in the Eastern District of California alleging sexual contact with a federal inmate. An investigation by the San Francisco Field Office was prompted by a supervisory correctional officer conducting security checks who observed the contract correctional officer engaging in sex with an inmate. The inmate admitted to an ongoing sexual relationship with the contract correctional officer. The officer awaits trial and has been terminated by the corporation that runs the Taft Correctional Institution under contract with BOP.
- A former BOP correctional officer assigned to the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont, Texas, was arrested and pled guilty to charges filed in the Eastern District of Texas of sexual abuse of a ward. An investigation by the Houston Area Office developed evidence that the former correctional officer had engaged in sex with an inmate on five occasions. He resigned from the BOP as a result of this investigation.
- An investigation by the Tucson Field Office determined that a BOP contract case manager assigned to a treatment center in Arizona was sexually involved with an inmate. The case manager was terminated from her position after prosecution was declined.
- An investigation by the Tucson Field Office resulted in the termination of a contract security monitor assigned to a Phoenix, Arizona, halfway house under contract to the BOP for having sex with an inmate in exchange for granting leave privileges. Prosecution was declined.
- Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on an investigation by the El Paso Field Office in which a former BOP correctional counselor was arrested and convicted in a jury trial of sexually abusing multiple female inmates while he was employed at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City. During this reporting period, the correctional counselor was sentenced to more than 12 years' incarceration and to 3 years' supervised release. This case represents one of the first felony convictions against a BOP correctional counselor for abusive sexual contact with an inmate.
- In the Northern District of California, a former INS contract employee working as a citizenship tester and a civilian immigration consultant were arrested and pled guilty to charges of procurement of citizenship contrary to law and aiding and abetting. A" investigation by the San Francisco Field Office developed evidence that the immigration consultant and the citizenship tester, formerly employed by an INS contractor, fraudulently gave passing grades on written citizenship tests to aliens who could not write or speak English. The former INS contract employee was sentenced to 3 years' probation, fined $2,500, and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service. The civilian immigration consultant was sentenced to 3 years' probation, fined $2,500, and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.
- An investigation by the Los Angeles Field Office resulted in the collection of approximately $293,367 from Nationwide Auction Systems, a private company under contract to sell seized automobiles on behalf of the USMS. Nationwide Auction Systems was found to be illegally adding a 10 percent buyers premium and a $50 processing fee to the expenses they charged clients, which was specifically prohibited in the contract negotiated with the USMS. A settlement was reached prior to civil or criminal action being brought against the company.
- A Border Patrol agent assigned to the Deming Border Patrol Station was convicted in a jury trial on New Mexico State charges of extortion and fraud. An undercover investigation initiated by the OIG El Paso Field Office and joined by the New Mexico State University Police (NMSUP) disclosed that the Border Patrol agent used his position as well as threats and intimidation to coerce three women and their families into giving him money and jewelry he believed they stole from his girlfriend's sister. Prior to the investigation, the Border Patrol agent had demanded and received $5,000 from the women and their families. In a joint effort, the OIG and NMSUP obtained a recording of the Border Patrol agent receiving a $1,000 extortion payment. He later admitted to keeping the money. The Border Patrol agent resigned his position and awaits sentencing.
- A joint investigation by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the OIG Miami Field Office resulted in the indictment and arrest of the former president, production manager, and quality control manager of the dissolved International Jet Repairs, Inc., in Hialeah, Florida, on charges of mail fraud and making false statements. This indictment alleges that International Jet Repairs, Inc., a Federal Aviation Administration-certified repair station, improperly repaired flight-critical aircraft parts.International Jet Repairs, Inc., also performed fraudulent repairs by using nonconforming parts on USMS aircraft and falsifying repair records. Judicial proceedings continue.
- An INS investigative support clerk assigned to the San Diego District Office was arrested on charges of making false claims against the United States. An investigation by the San Diego Field Office led to the indictment filed in the Southern District of California alleging that, during 1998 and 1999, the investigative clerk falsified and submitted 14 payroll records, forged 6 SF-1164 forms (Claim for Reimbursement for Expenditures on Official Business), and forged 6 G-722 forms (Claim for Payment of Reward or Purchase of Evidence). Through her actions, the investigative clerk received more than $15,000 in unauthorized payments. She is currently awaiting trial.
- A former deputy U.S. Marshal was arrested, pled guilty, and was sentenced to three years' probation in the District of Columbia for theft of public funds. An investigation by the Washington Field Office revealed that the former deputy marshal, who worked as a supervisor in the Short Term Protection Program (STPP) in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia from 1992 until October 1999, embezzled approximately $6,500 in witness subsistence funds intended for six different witnesses in the STPP. The former deputy marshal forged witnesses' signatures on subsistence funds voucher receipts for amounts larger than he actually gave the witnesses. He resigned from the USMS during the course of the investigation.
- A contract GSA supervisory janitor was sentenced in the Northern District of California to 3 years' probation and 5 months' home confinement and ordered to pay restitution of $12,695 following his conviction for stealing six laptop computers and selling this federal government property without authority. An OIG San Francisco Field Office investigation into the disappearance of 29 new laptop computers--valued in excess of $60,000-- from the INS San Francisco District Office developed evidence that the supervisory janitor stole and then sold or pawned at least six of the computers for approximately $200 each. The OIG recovered three of the computers. The INS and GSA Federal Protective Service assisted in the investigation.
- Our last Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in which two former INS contract employees were arrested on charges of presenting materially altered money orders and a third former INS contract employee was arrested on charges of aiding and abetting the presentation of altered money orders. During this reporting period, three additional INS contract employees working as clerks for the Labat-Anderson Company and a civilian were arrested pursuant to an indictment alleging conspiracy to embezzle, steal, and knowingly convert to their own use money and things of value to the United States. One INS contract employee has pled guilty. Judicial proceedings continue.
Conflict Of Interest
- A former senior Justice Management Division (JMD) official agreed to pay a $30,000 civil settlement to the U.S. government to resolve allegations that he violated conflict of interest laws for federal employees. This Washington Field Office investigation, coordinated with the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section, concluded that the former JMD official had attempted to influence the Department's decision to award a contract for computer assistance to his current employer. The former JMD official was prohibited from contacting the government on behalf of an employer within one year of leaving federal service. This is the largest fine paid as a result of a settlement agreement with the Public Integrity Section from an investigation into a conflict of interest violation.
Obstruction of Justice
- Two federal inmates incarcerated at FCI Estill, South Carolina, were each sentenced in the Northern District of Georgia to 15 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release. The inmates were previously arrested and pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice. A joint investigation by the OIG Atlanta Area Office and FBI revealed that the first inmate provided the second inmate with information concerning a drug-dealer defendant scheduled to go to trial. The second inmate used the information to falsely claim to the government that he worked with the drug dealer in the past. The second inmate was later placed on the government's witness list and, based on his cooperation, sought a reduction in sentence even though he provided false statements concerning his association with the drug dealer.
- An investigation by the El Paso Field Office resulted in the 45-day suspension of an AUSA for inappropriate behavior during a witness interview. In addition, the OIG found that the AUSA used inappropriate language in reference to police officers and a female law intern, consumed alcohol while on duty, and inappropriately carried and displayed a firearm while on duty.
- An AUSA was terminated from his position for making false statements under oath, practicing law outside his duties, and misusing his position for personal gain. A Chicago Field Office investigation revealed that the AUSA had received compensation for conducting legal work that was outside the scope of his government employment and had lied about this activity in a sworn affidavit.
The San Diego Field Office continues to receive numerous allegations of civil rights violations committed by Department employees against illegal aliens. Working in concert with the Consul General of Mexico, the San Diego Field Office ensures that all allegations of civil rights violations are tracked and receive proper disposition, including the opening of an OIG investigation, if appropriate. The USAO for the Southern District of California and the Civil Rights Section of the Criminal Division continue to vigorously pursue prosecution of such matters. Presently, the San Diego Field Office has five criminal civil rights investigations at various stages of the judicial process.
During this reporting period, a Border Patrol agent assigned to the Temecula Border Patrol Station surrendered and pled guilty to charges of obstruction of justice in the Southern District of California and agreed to resign from the Border Patrol. The OIG San Diego Field Office, assisted by the FBI, initiated an investigation after receiving an allegation from a local civil rights group that a legal resident had been assaulted by an unknown Border Patrol agent near a local highway. The investigation developed evidence that, following a vehicle stop, the Border Patrol agent beat a man he suspected was an alien smuggler and then instructed his partner to omit information about the incident in his written report. The Border Patrol agent was sentenced to 6 months' home confinement and 3 years' probation.
The following chart summarizes the workload and accomplishments of Investigations during the 6-month period ending September 30, 2000.