USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1996 - March 31, 1997

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The Investigations Division

The Investigations Division investigates allegations of civil rights violations, bribery, fraud, abuse, and violations of other laws, rules, and procedures that govern Department of Justice employees, contractors, and grantees.

 


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Investigations Division

Overview & Highlights

 

The Investigations Division investigates allegations of bribery, fraud, abuse, civil rights violations, and violations of other laws and procedures that govern Department of Justice (Department) employees, contractors, and grantees. The Division also develops cases for criminal prosecution, civil action, and administrative action. In some instances, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) refers allegations to components within the Department and requests notification of their findings and of any disciplinary action taken.

In addition to responding to misconduct allegations, the OIG believes additional benefits can result from proactive efforts to educate and deter employees from engaging in misconduct. To educate Department employees on ethics, special agents conducted 41 integrity awareness briefings, reaching 1,070 Department employees.

During this reporting period, the Investigations Division received 3,198 complaints, an 8.6 percent increase over the first half of last fiscal year. We made 49 arrests, including 19 Department employees, 26 civilians, and 4 Department contract personnel. Judicial action resulted in 51 individuals receiving sentences ranging from 1 month to over 33 years' incarceration, and fines, recoveries, and orders of restitution totaling $350,763. As the result of OIG investigations, 45 employees and 1 contractor received disciplinary action, including 12 who were terminated.

The OIG, with the firm support of the Attorney General, continues to play a key role in Department civil rights investigations involving the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The OIG has three responsibilities regarding allegations of civil rights violations: (1) conducting criminal and noncriminal investigations of certain complaints, (2) ensuring that persons with complaints know where and how to report them, and (3) tracking the disposition of all complaints among the various Department components that have responsibility for such matters.

Civil Rights

Investigating Civil Rights Allegations

During this reporting period, a criminal sentence was imposed in a civil rights case first reported in our March 1996 Semiannual Report to Congress. An INS special cases officer, who used his position to extort sexual favors and sexually abuse female aliens while employed at a California Port of Entry, was sentenced to nine years' incarceration and three years' probation.

The San Diego Union Tribune-Tuesday, December 17, 1996

 

Investigations of alleged civil rights violations often result in evidence that misconduct occurred, but the evidence may not support criminal prosecution. INS terminated six employees in such cases during this reporting period. Compared to earlier reporting periods, this is a significant increase in the number and gravity of administrative actions taken by INS in civil rights-related cases.

 


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1996 - March 31, 1997

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Civil Rights

The following chart summarizes all new allegations of violations of civil rights by INS employees, and their disposition, during the 6-month period ending March 31, 1997.

 

Civil Rights Allegations Statistics
Alleged Civil Rights Violations by INS Employees
Total allegations received 150
OIG investigations opened 37
FBI investigations opened 3
State/Local investigations and prosecutions 0
Administrative investigations by INS 16

 

Tracking Civil Rights Allegations

The OIG compiles a monthly civil rights report that lists the credible, serious civil rights allegations made against INS employees and the actions taken by Department components in response to these allegations. The report is distributed to the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), INS, Civil Rights Division, and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

The chart below summarizes the total number of prosecutive and administrative actions resulting from civil rights investigations of INS employees that were tracked and reported by the OIG during this reporting period.

Civil Rights Tracking Report Statistics
Prosecutive and Administrative Actions
Closed no action taken 34
Disciplinary actions taken by INS 7
Criminal convictions 1

 

Significant Investigations

Drugs

Our last Semiannual Report to Congress described Operation PORT SWEEPER, an investigation by the San Diego Field Office, FBI, and U.S. Customs Service that focused on allegations that corrupt INS and U.S. Customs Service inspectors facilitated the smuggling of drugs between Mexicali, Mexico, and the United States. A former INS inspector and four coconspirators were arrested on cocaine smuggling charges. During this reporting period, the former inspector was sentenced to


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Significant Investigations

27 years' incarceration and 8 years' supervised release. One coconspirator was sentenced to 20 years' incarceration and 5 years' probation, and the other three coconspirators each received sentences of over 4 years' incarceration and between 1 to 4 years' probation.

Our September 1995 Semiannual Report to Congress provided an update on an investigation of a major drug trafficking ring involving a former INS immigration inspector who accepted over $33,000 in bribes to allow marijuana to pass through his inspection lane. During the current reporting period, a second INS immigration inspector also involved in the ring was sentenced in the Southern District of Texas to 10 years' incarceration and 5 years' supervised probation and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.

Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, Texas
VALLEY
Wednesday, February 12, 1997

 

Our September 1994 Semiannual Report to Congress reported a joint McAllen Field Office and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation that led to the arrest of an INS Border Patrol agent, an INS detention enforcement officer, and four coconspirators on charges of bribery, conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. The agent admitted to allowing 5,714 pounds of marijuana to pass into the United States in return for $40,000, and the detention officer admitted to working with the agent and allowing an additional 400 pounds of marijuana into the country. Since initially reporting this case, 6 additional coconspirators were arrested, and all 12 were convicted and sentenced. The former Border Patrol agent was sentenced to over two years' incarceration and four years' probation and the former detention enforcement officer to two years' incarceration and three years' probation. The 10 coconspirators received sentences ranging from 1 to 13 years' incarceration and up to 5 years' probation.

A joint investigation by the New York Field Office and DEA led to the indictment and arrest of four Guyanese nationals involved in drug and alien smuggling. The smugglers met with undercover OIG special agents posing as corrupt INS officials and paid them $7,100 in bribes to allow aliens and drugs to be smuggled into the United States. A balance of $10,000 was to be paid to the special agents after drugs entered the country and were sold. The smugglers were arrested while attempting to smuggle 5.6 kilograms of cocaine into the country at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Trial is pending.

In the Southern District of California, a San Diego Border Corruption Task Force investigation led to the indictment and arrest of an INS immigration inspector and her Mexican national boyfriend on drug trafficking charges. At the port of entry where the inspector worked, her boyfriend was stopped while attempting to smuggle 64 pounds of marijuana into the United States. Further investigation implicated the inspector, who pled guilty to importation of marijuana and was sentenced to 18 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release. Her boyfriend also was convicted on drug charges and sentenced to 18 months' incarceration.


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Significant Investigations

Bribery

CORRECTION: Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported that an INS assistant district director for examinations was indicted in the District of New Jersey on charges of bribery, conspiracy, alien smuggling, fraud and misuse of U.S. entry documents, aiding and abetting, and making false statements. The investigation involved a fugitive who, upon his return, cooperated with the government and identified his INS inside connection. Our case description should have stated that he identified the assistant district director for examinations, not the district director.

In the District of South Carolina, a former INS adjudications officer, two Chinese document brokers, and three aliens were arrested on charges including conspiracy, bribery, and aiding and abetting the unlawful procurement of naturalization. This Atlanta Area Office investigation, assisted by the General Services Administration, Federal Protective Service, FBI, and INS, established that the adjudications officer accepted bribes from the document brokers to certify that Chinese and Vietnamese aliens passed the naturalization interview when, in fact, they did not possess the required English proficiency. Trial is pending.

The Organized Crime Unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York provided information that led to an OIG investigation and arrest of a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) secretary on charges of bribery, conspiracy, and introduction of contraband into a federal prison. This New York Field Office investigation established that the secretary, assigned to the Witness Security Unit at the prison, accepted bribes from inmates in return for providing contraband. Also arrested was an inmate's sister who received money and items to be smuggled into the prison for Witness Security Program inmates. She forwarded these items, as well as bribe payments, to the secretary. Further legal proceedings are pending.

A 2-year San Diego Border Corruption Task Force case led to the arrest of an INS immigration inspector on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and document fraud. The inspector accepted bribes from two middlemen in return for providing INS documents, including Border Crosser Cards, to ineligible aliens and narcotics traffickers. The inspector pled guilty and admitted to selling over 80 INS documents. Sentencing is scheduled for early spring.

Two recent investigations by the El Paso Field Office at the Paseo Del Notre Port of Entry in Texas resulted in the arrests of two Mexican nationals on charges of bribery. One attempted to use a counterfeit INS Record of Arrival and Departure to illegally enter the country. The other illegally used a Mexican passport belonging to someone else. During questioning by INS inspectors and undercover OIG special agents posing as INS inspectors, the aliens offered bribes of $1,000 and $100, respectively, to INS inspectors to permit entry into the United States. Both Mexican nationals pled guilty. The first waived his right to a deportation hearing and was sentenced to five months' confinement and three years' probation and fined $200. Sentencing is pending for the other.


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Significant Investigations

Sexual Abuse

Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported a case in the Southern District of Texas in which a former BOP commissary and warehouse supervisor pled guilty to sexual contact with a ward. During this reporting period, the supervisor was sentenced to five years' probation and four months' home confinement and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

The San Diego Field Office assisted in an investigation by the San Diego Police Department and District Attorney's Office that established that an on-duty Border Patrol agent sexually assaulted an undocumented female alien from El Salvador. The Border Patrol agent was arrested on California state charges and pled guilty to sexual assault under color of authority. The investigation, monitored by the Department's Civil Rights Division, resulted in a sentence of 10 years' incarceration in state prison. The Border Patrol agent also was mandated to undergo lifetime AIDS testing and to register as a convicted sex offender for life. He was fired by INS.

Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, November 20, 1996 A3


 

In the District of Puerto Rico, a BOP psychiatrist, formerly a BOP clinical director, was arrested on charges of sexual abuse of an inmate. A joint investigation by the Miami Field Office, FBI, and BOP's Office of Internal Affairs revealed that the psychiatrist engaged in sexual acts with inmates who sought his medical care and, while employed at BOP, had a long-standing pattern of offensive, sexually oriented behavior. In January 1997, the psychiatrist jumped bail and fled to Mexico. He was arrested shortly thereafter as he attempted to reenter the country through the Brownsville, Texas, Port of Entry. The doctor resigned from BOP. Trial is pending.

In the District of Connecticut, a BOP correctional officer pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse of a prison ward. This New York Field Office investigation revealed that the correctional officer, who has a master's degree in psychology, emotionally and sexually exploited an inmate assigned to the trauma unit at the prison. When the inmate refused to continue the relationship, the correctional officer threatened to have her transferred, which would have prevented her from seeing her children. The correctional officer was sentenced to 21 months' incarceration and 1 year's supervised release.

An investigation by the Miami Field Office resulted in INS firing its officer in charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It had been alleged that the officer expedited exit to the United States in exchange for sexual favors. OIG special agents established that the officer had engaged in sexual relations with male detainees but did not expedite their entry into the United States. Prosecution was declined in lieu of administrative action by INS. The officer was fired based on the findings of the investigation, and the termination was upheld on appeal.

 


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1996 - March 31, 1997

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Significant Investigations

In the Northern District of Illinois, an INS contract employee was arrested on charges of sexual contact with a juvenile. This Chicago Field Office investigation confirmed that a case worker employed by an INS-contracted facility to house juvenile detainees was forcibly fondling female juvenile aliens housed at the facility. Trial is pending.

In the District of Connecticut, a BOP physician's assistant pled guilty to charges of sexually abusing a prison ward and introducing contraband to a prison facility. An investigation by the New York Field Office established that the assistant had a sexual relationship with one of his inmate patients and that he fondled another. Additionally, he provided contraband to the inmates, including an antidepressant medication normally requiring prescription. The assistant, who resigned from BOP, was sentenced to 2 months' incarceration in a halfway house, 2 months' home confinement, 8 months' probation, and 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Fraud and Waste

Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported a case in which the former executive director and the program manager of a Texas drug and alcohol rehabilitation center pled guilty to making false statements and conspiracy to commit money laundering. During this reporting period, the program manager was sentenced to six years' incarceration and three years' supervised release and ordered to make $187,500 restitution to the rehabilitation center and pay a $12,500 fine. The executive director was sentenced to 5 years' probation, ordered to perform 250 hours of community service, and fined $5,000.

March 21, 1997 Austin American-Statesman

 

Our last Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in which an INS special agent used his position and influence to provide fraudulent and unauthorized INS documents and benefits to illegal aliens in order to adopt the aliens' children. During this reporting period, the agent was sentenced to 15 months' incarceration and 2 years' supervised release.

Information provided by U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado, alleged that fraudulent and wasteful work was being performed by a BOP contractor in the construction of a major federal prison complex. This information led to a
3-year investigation by the Colorado Springs Area Office. An independent engineering firm hired by the OIG inspected the work performed by the contractor and reported several construction problems. BOP's contract engineering management group confirmed the problems, including, among others, seamedinstead of seamlessnatural gas lines and faulty welds in gas and water lines. BOP required the contractor to correct the deficiencies at the contractor's cost. The investigation was unable to show criminal intent on the part of the contractor, and prosecution was declined.


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Significant Investigations

Embezzlement

Our September 1996 Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in which a former Texas police chief was arrested on state charges of theft and abuse of office. During this reporting period, the former chief pled guilty to abuse of office and was sentenced to 5 years' probation and 200 hours of community service.

The former budget officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York pled guilty to charges of theft of government property. From January 1991 until May 1996, the budget officer charged the government approximately $61,000 for unworked and unauthorized overtime hours. The investigation also revealed that he made unauthorized cash withdrawals on various government American Express accounts. The budget officer resigned shortly after the investigation began. He was sentenced to four months' incarceration, three years' supervised release, and six months' home confinement and ordered to pay the cost of the home monitoring. Full restitution was made.

In the District of Vermont, an INS Service Center contract employee was arrested and charged with embezzlement. This Boston Area Office investigation established that the contractor, who worked in the mail room, stole approximately $10,500 in checks mailed to the Center as application fees for INS benefits. The contractor altered the payee's name on approximately 120 checks and deposited them into his local bank account. Sentencing is pending.

A joint investigation by the Washington Field Office and FBI disclosed that a Justice Management Division financial specialist failed to deposit over $8,000 into
a Department bank account and converted the funds to her own use. She was sentenced to two years' probation and required to make restitution of the funds and to undergo drug testing and outpatient drug treatment.

Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice

In the Northern District of Georgia, an attorney and a coconspirator pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruction of justice. A joint investigation by the Atlanta Area Office and FBI established that the attorney and coconspirator sold the "use" of confidential informants to federal inmates who sought to reduce their sentences under Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The inmates paid fees ranging from $7,500 to $250,000 to the attorney and coconspirator, who in turn paid informants to set up alleged criminals in drug busts by local police. The coconspirator then advised the government that the informant had a special relationship with the inmate, when in fact the two had never met, and that the assistance provided by the informant should be credited to the inmate. The attorney also evaded the payment of over $500,000 in personal income tax. Sentencing is pending.

The Atlanta Journal/The Atlanta Constitution Wednesday, July 3, 1996

 


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Significant Investigations

Gun Trafficking

In the Western District of Texas, an INS Border Patrol agent was arrested on charges of unlawfully dealing in firearms, transferring firearms to a nonresident, and possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers. A multiagency investigation by the El Paso Field Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; U.S. Customs Service; and Del Rio Police Department found that the agent was responsible for providing firearms to known drug gangs in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A search of his residence provided evidence that the agent also had accessed law enforcement intelligence data bases for personal use. Trial is scheduled for the fall.

San Antonio Express News
Friday, February 21, 1997

 

Theft

Our March 1996 Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in the Eastern District of California in which an INS Border Patrol agent was arrested on charges of converting property under color of law and making false statements. During this reporting period, the Border Patrol agent pled guilty and was sentenced to six months' incarceration and two years' probation. He also was fired by INS.

A former BOP contract employee was arrested on Arizona state charges of theft. The employee worked as a unit manager for a company that owns and operates a detention center and has contracts with BOP, INS, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review to house detainees. This Tucson Field Office investigation established that the unit manager stole $2,700 from a detainee who was deported to the Far East. The manager confessed, pled guilty, and was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to make full restitution.

Initiative Update

Our March 1996 Semiannual Report to Congress described our Witness Security Program (WITSEC) initiative, in which the Investigations Division joined with the USMS Judicial Security Division to inspect the activities of 10 WITSEC field offices. Our inspections revealed management control weaknesses in seven areas. In particular the team found that closer supervision of individual WITSEC inspectors, better monitoring by WITSEC Headquarters, and improved payment verification techniques could deter the types of fraud found in recent OIG investigations of WITSEC funds embezzlement. USMS has already implemented some of the changes required.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1996 - March 31, 1997

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Investigations Statistics

Investigations Statistics
Source of Allegations
Hotline (telephone and mail) 446
Other sources 2752
Total allegations received 3198
Investigative Caseload
Investigations opened this period 395
Investigations closed this period 320
Investigations in progress as of 3/31/97 581
Prosecutive Actions
Criminal indictments/informations 45
Arrests 49
Convictions/Pleas 42
Monetary Results
Fines/Restitutions/Recoveries $350,763
Seizures $20,200
Bribe monies deposited to the Treasury $26,332