USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 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.

 


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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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 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 for appropriate action and requests notification of their findings and of any disciplinary action taken.

During this reporting period, the Investigations Division received 3,567 complaints - the most ever received in any reporting period. We made 69 arrests, including 32 Department employees, 33 civilians, 2 Department contract personnel, and 2 grantees. Judicial action resulted in 31 individuals receiving sentences ranging from one month to life in prison without parole, and in fines, recoveries, and orders of restitution totaling $4,119,180. As a result of OIG investigations, 28 employees and 3 contractors received disciplinary action, including 7 who were terminated.

 

Significant Investigations

Bribery

In the Eastern District of New York, a 19-month investigation code-named Operation BADFELLAS resulted in the arrest of 11 current or former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) correctional officers, 4 inmates, and 8 civilians. The investigation determined that the correctional officers accepted bribes in exchange for smuggling drugs, food, and other contraband into the prison. Bribes also were accepted in exchange for moving organized crime inmates within the facility so that they could conduct "mob business," allowing organized crime inmates to receive unauthorized visits, providing access to BOP computer systems, and switching urine samples in order to defeat random drug tests. OIG undercover special agents posed as inmate family members and organized crime associates, met with corrupt correctional officers, and paid them bribes. BOP fully cooperated in the investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)/New York Police Department Organized Crime Task Force assisted. To date, four correctional officers, four civilians, and one inmate have pled guilty. Judicial proceedings continue for the other defendants.

 


THE NEW YORK TIMES,
FRIDAY, MAY 23, 1997


The Washington Times
FRIDAY, MAY 23, 1997

 

Our last Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in the District of South Carolina in which a former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) adjudications officer accepted bribes from Chinese document brokers to certify that Chinese and Vietnamese aliens passed the naturalization interview when, in fact, they did not possess the required English proficiency. During this reporting period, the adjudications officer pled guilty and was sentenced to over five years' incarceration and three years' probation. Four coconspirators pled guilty, and a fifth coconspirator remains a fugitive.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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Significant Investigations

 

In the Eastern District of New York, an INS immigration inspector assigned to the John F. Kennedy International Airport was arrested on charges of providing altered U.S. passports and other identity documents to illegal aliens. The inspector was videotaped accepting a total of $10,000 in bribes in exchange for identity packages that contained U.S. passports, INS Alien Registration Receipt Cards (Green Cards), and drivers licenses. These documents allow illegal aliens to enter the United States undetected. The inspector was suspended from INS and awaits trial.

In the Western District of Pennsylvania, an investigation by the New York Field Office, FBI, and BOP led to the arrest of a correctional officer on charges of smuggling contraband into a prison and possession of a controlled substance. The OIG received information that the correctional officer was bringing heroin, cocaine, and marijuana into the institution for resale by inmates in exchange for cash and other items. The correctional officer was arrested after meeting an undercover agent to accept marijuana for smuggling into the prison. His trial is pending.

In the Eastern District of California, an INS adjudications officer was indicted on charges of bribery and extortion. This San Francisco Field Office investigation established that the adjudications officer demanded $500 from an immigration consultant to ensure that each of the consultant's clients passed the required English proficiency and citizenship examinations. The adjudications officer was recorded receiving $3,000 in bribes for six of the clients. Prosecution is pending.

In the Eastern District of Missouri, a Chicago Field Office investigation confirmed that an INS immigration inspector accepted bribes from an immigration consultant in return for stamping INS Records of Arrival and Departure (I94s) with a refugee stamp. The inspector charged $300 per stamp. The I-94s allowed unidentified Middle Eastern nationals to enter and leave the United States without proper examination. The inspector pled guilty to charges of bribery and was sentenced to 6 months' home confinement, 2 years' probation, and 20 hours of community service.

Drugs

Our last Semiannual Report to Congress updated 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. During this reporting period, the three remaining coconspirators received prison sentences: one received over 17 years' incarceration and 5 years' probation and was ordered to forfeit a vehicle and real property valued at $115,000; a former U.S. Customs Service inspector was sentenced to 24 years' incarceration and 5 years' probation and fined $4 million; and a former INS employee was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to forfeit 4 residences and $100,000.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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Significant Investigations


Our September 1996 Semiannual Report to Congress reported an investigation by the McAllen Field Office and INS Anti-smuggling Unit, which established that a Mexican national and an accomplice conspired to distribute over 50 kilograms of marijuana and to sell counterfeit Border Crosser Cards. The Mexican national was convicted on drug trafficking charges and sentenced to seven years in prison and three years' probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine. The accomplice pled guilty and was sentenced to four months in prison and three years' probation.

Sexual Abuse

Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported a case in the District of Puerto Rico in which a BOP psychiatrist was arrested for engaging in sexual acts with inmates. The psychiatrist pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse and absconding while on bail. He was sentenced to 2 years' incarceration, 2 years' supervised release, and 100 hours of community service and was ordered to pay $3,707 restitution.

In the Eastern District of New York, an INS immigration inspector was arrested on charges of extortion and sexual abuse. This New York Field Office investigation was initiated after an alien reported that the inspector sexually assaulted and stole money from him while he was detained at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. The investigation also established that two other aliens were sexually abused and robbed by the inspector. The inspector was suspended from INS and awaits trial.

In the Northern District of Texas, a BOP chaplain pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse of a ward. This Dallas Area Office investigation established that the chaplain had sex with an inmate on six different occasions in the prison chapel. The chaplain was sentenced to six months' incarceration and one year supervised release and was fined $5,000.

A Chicago Field Office and Des Moines Police Department investigation established that an assistant U.S. attorney (AUSA) had taken nude photographs of a minor. The AUSA was convicted in state court of sexual exploitation of a minor, sentenced to 10 years in state prison, and fined $10,000.

In the Northern District of Georgia, a BOP case manager was arrested on charges of aggravated sexual abuse of an inmate. This Atlanta Area Office and FBI investigation established that the case manager forced an inmate, over several months, to perform oral sex on him under the threat of bodily harm while the inmate was under the manager's supervision. Judicial proceedings continue.

In the Southern District of Texas, a McAllen Field Office investigation established through DNA testing that a BOP correctional officer had sex with an inmate at the prison camp where he was assigned. The correctional officer pled guilty to sexual abuse of a ward and resigned from BOP as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office. He was sentenced to three months' home confinement and five years' probation and was fined $2,000.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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Significant Investigations


False Statements

A Colorado Springs Area Office investigation established that, over the past 17 years, a former BOP construction specialist received over $360,000 in workers' compensation benefits for an alleged back injury he received while employed for only three months by BOP. The OIG special agent documented that the former construction specialist was operating a construction business while falsely reporting to the Office of Workers' Compensation Program that he remained disabled and received no outside income. He was convicted of false statements relative to a Federal Workers' Compensation Program claim. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Wyoming advised the OIG that this is the first Federal Workers' Compensation Program case ever tried in Wyoming. Sentencing is scheduled for fall 1997.

A Mexican national reported that she was sexually assaulted by an INS officer whom she encountered at a port-of-entry. The San Diego Field Office and FBI investigation found no evidence to corroborate the allegation. When confronted with the results of the investigation, the woman admitted that she fabricated the allegation. She was arrested and charged with false statements as well as false claim to U.S. citizenship. She pled guilty and was sentenced to two months' incarceration and one year probation.

Fraud

In the Central District of California, six document vendors were arrested on charges of filing false INS documents, alien smuggling, mail fraud, and money laundering. A joint investigation by the Los Angeles Field Office, INS, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Department of State found that the document-vending ring solicited Philippine and East Indian aliens seeking resident visas and sold them counterfeit immigrant visas. Two of the document vendors pled guilty to charges of conspiracy, visa fraud, and mail fraud and await sentencing. Trial is pending for the remaining defendants.

The New York Field Office culminated a year-long investigation of a notorious immigration document vendor with her arrest on charges of conspiracy, transfer of fraudulent documents, and false statements. This investigation, in the District of New Jersey, established that the document vendor was submitting fraudulent petitions to INS in New York claiming that aliens were married to U.S. citizens. The document vendor provided her clients with fraudulent marriage and birth certificates as well as fraudulent tax returns, leases, and bank statements. Prosecution is pending.

In the District of Kansas, a former chief of police was arrested for submitting fraudulent claims and mail fraud. This Chicago Field Office investigation confirmed that the former chief falsified a Community Oriented Policing Services grant application to obtain $5,000 in order to pay a civil action involving the city. Trial is pending.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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Significant Investigations


In the Northern District of Illinois, a Mexican alien was arrested on charges of counterfeiting INS and social security documents. This investigation by the Chicago Field Office and INS determined that counterfeit resident alien cards, birth certificates, and social security cards were printed in Mexico and shipped to the United States. The scheme would allow aliens to purchase a total package of fraudulent documents. The investigation confiscated over 3,000 resident alien and social security cards. INS is in the process of deporting the Mexican alien.

Obstruction of Justice

Our March 1997 Semiannual Report to Congress described a case, in the Northern District of Georgia, in which an attorney and a 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. Under the scheme, the attorney and coconspirator arranged for informants to make legitimate criminal cases and to give credit for their efforts to the inmates, who had no previous relationship to the informants. During this reporting period, the attorney was sentenced to 2 years' incarceration and 3 years' probation, and he lost his license to practice law. The coconspirator was sentenced to over four years' incarceration and three years' probation and fined $7,250.

An investigation by the Miami Field Office and FBI resulted in the arrest of a former AUSA, a local defense attorney, a retired deputy sheriff, and a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. Government and obstruction of justice. Under Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the coconspirators sought to obtain a sentence reduction for an inmate based on the false representation that the inmate had been instrumental in making a drug case with which he had no connection. In fact, the inmate's only role was to provide money to the coconspirators. DEA cooperated in the investigation. The coconspirators await trial.

 

The Washington Post Tuesday, August 12, 1997


 

In the Eastern District of Louisiana, an INS Border Patrol agent was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice. This Atlanta Area Office and INS investigation established that the Border Patrol agent discouraged a witness, scheduled to testify before a grand jury, from telling the truth. Previously, the witness had paid the agent $1,700 for immigration documents. Judicial proceedings continue.

Embezzlement

In the Southern District of Texas, a former INS supervisory detention and deportation officer was convicted of embezzlement at an INS Service Processing Center. This McAllen Field Office investigation, which was assisted by the Dallas Regional Audit Office, found evidence that the former officer had altered and falsely filed official records relating to the deposit of $65,000 in bond monies posted by aliens into the U.S. Treasury. An audit, conducted as part of the investigation, determined that an additional $73,000 was unaccounted for. The former officer was sentenced to 18 months' incarceration and 3 years' probation and ordered to pay $65,000 restitution.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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Significant Investigations


In the Northern District of Ohio, an INS immigration inspector pled guilty to embezzlement. This Chicago Field Office investigation confirmed that the inspector accepted legitimate immigration applications and appropriate fees, then destroyed the applications and pocketed the fee money. INS is conducting an audit to determine the extent of the embezzlement. The immigration inspector resigned and was sentenced to two years' probation.

A joint investigation by the El Paso Field Office and U.S. Customs Service, assisted by the Dallas Regional Audit Office, established that an INS Border Patrol secretary and imprest fund cashier stole $7,000 from a U.S. Customs Service imprest fund and fraudulently withdrew $6,500 in ATM cash advances using her government American Express Card. A U.S. Customs Service cashier stole over $10,000 from the imprest fund and gave the INS secretary a portion of the money and the combination to the U.S. Custom Service's safe where the imprest fund was maintained. The U.S. Customs Service cashier pled guilty and was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay $4,100 restitution. The INS secretary was convicted in the Western District of Texas on charges of embezzlement and theft and awaits sentencing.

Misconduct

An investigation by the Washington Field Office resulted in an AUSA resigning after admitting he had a sexual relationship with a woman under indictment in a narcotics case being prosecuted by his office. The AUSA also admitted that he improperly disclosed information relating to this case to a potential target of the investigation.

 

Civil Rights

The OIG, with the firm support of the Attorney General, continues to play a key role in Department civil rights investigations involving the 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. The OIG also compiles a monthly civil rights report that is distributed to the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, INS, FBI, Civil Rights Division, and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

Investigating Civil Rights Allegations

An INS detention enforcement officer was arrested on charges of deprivation of rights under color of law. An investigation by the San Diego Field Office and FBI revealed that the detention officer physically abused a Mexican national in his custody. This finding led to the reinvestigation of a similar 1995 incident involving the same officer. The case, which addresses both incidents, is being prosecuted by the Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California. Trial is scheduled for fall 1997.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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Civil Rights


The following chart summarizes all new allegations of civil rights violations by INS employees, and their disposition, during the 6-month period ending September 30, 1997.



 


Investigations Statistics

 

The following chart summarizes the workload and accomplishments of the Investigations Division during the 6-month period ending September 30, 1997.