USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1997 - March 31, 1998

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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.

 

 

 


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Investigations Division

Overview & Highlights

 

The Investigations Division (Investigations) 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. Investigations 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, Investigations received 3,406 complaints. We made 82 arrests, including 28 Department employees, 32 civilians, and 22 Department contract personnel. Judicial action resulted in 41 individuals receiving sentences ranging from probation to over seven years in prison, and in fines, recoveries, and orders of restitution totaling $193,360. As a result of OIG investigations, 35 employees and 1 contract employee received disciplinary action, including 10 who were terminated. In addition, 20 employees resigned.

 

Significant Investigations

Bribery

• In the Eastern District of Virginia, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent and an immigration attorney were arrested on charges of bribery. This joint Washington Field Office, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and ATF investigation resulted in an indictment alleging that the ATF agent and attorney paid over $82,000 in bribes to an INS assistant district director for investigations who posed as a corrupt employee. In exchange for the bribes, the attorney's clients were to receive INS Alien Registration Receipt Cards (Green Cards). The attorney collected fees of over $350,000 from his clients and paid the ATF agent $35,000 to provide security for the operation, convey a bribe from the attorney to the INS official, and assist with processing the attorney's alien clients. Also arrested and charged were 2 immigration brokers who provided alien clients to the attorney and 19 aliens who expected to receive Green Cards. The agent was terminated by ATF. Judicial proceedings continue.


The Washington Times Friday, March 13, 1998




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Significant Investigations



• In the Southern District of Texas, a resident alien and her husband, a Mexican national, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. This McAllen Field Office and INS investigation established that the couple offered an INS deportation officer a $2,000 bribe to expedite the husband's deportation proceedings. The couple was concerned that their narcotics-trafficking business was being overrun by competitors while the husband was detained by INS. Sentencing is pending.

• In an Atlanta Area Office investigation, a detention enforcement officer, who was assigned to execute a warrant of deportation, accepted a $3,500 bribe in return for allowing an undercover OIG agent, posing as a deportee, to go free. The INS officer pled guilty to bribery charges in the Northern District of Georgia. He was sentenced to 15 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release and fined $3,500.

• In the District of New Jersey, four Bureau of Prison (BOP) employees -- two correctional officers and two recreational specialists -- pled guilty to charges of accepting bribes and introducing contraband into a federal correctional institution. In addition, two inmates pled guilty to charges of smuggling. This 18-month New York Field Office investigation determined that the four employees received approximately $5,000 from the inmates in return for bringing drugs, alcohol, and food into the prison. As a result of the investigation, three of the employees resigned and one was terminated by BOP. Sentencing is pending for all defendants.

THE NEW YORK TIMES TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1997


 

• Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on Operation BADFELLAS, in which 11 correctional officers, 4 inmates, and 8 civilians were arrested. This New York Field Office investigation determined that BOP correctional officers accepted bribes from inmates and their civilian associates in exchange for smuggling narcotics and other contraband into the prison facility and providing favors to the inmates. During this reporting period, two more inmates were arrested, and two correctional officers, four inmates, and one civilian pled guilty. In addition, three civilians received sentences ranging from probation to over seven years' incarceration. Judicial proceedings continue for the other defendants.

Drugs

• Operation BAJA BLITZ, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation by the San Diego Field Office and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), targeted suspected drug traffickers seeking INS documents. This joint investigation resulted in the arrest of a major Mexican drug trafficker with ties to the Cali Cartel, who smuggled a half ton of cocaine into Texas. He also paid over $50,000 in bribes to an undercover OIG agent, posing as a corrupt INS official, in exchange for INS Temporary Resident Cards (I-688s).



Wed., Feb. 4, 1998 THE MONITOR, McAllen, Texas


 


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Significant Investigations



A second Mexican national paid a $15,000 bribe to the undercover agent for an I-688 and was identified as a major money launderer. The first Mexican national pled guilty in the Southern District of California to the drug trafficking violations; the second Mexican national absconded after paying a $50,000 bond and is currently a fugitive. Two other Mexican nationals, who paid a total of $65,000 in bribes for two I-688s, are being sought.

• A 19-month McAllen Field Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Corruption Task Force investigation resulted in the indictment and arrest of an INS immigration inspector and the indictment of 18 others. The indictment alleges that the inspector, a member of the Robles drug-trafficking organization, allowed over 500 pounds of marijuana through a port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. Judicial proceedings continue.

• The San Diego Field Office and DEA initiated a joint investigation after the Border Patrol reported suspicious activity by an agent near the U.S.-Mexico border. The investigation established that smugglers were loading the corrupt agent's vehicle with 602 pounds of marijuana. The smugglers escaped across the border. The Border Patrol agent pled guilty to charges of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. His sentencing is pending.

• In the Southern District of Texas, an INS contract employee pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. This McAllen Field Office investigation established that the contract employee, who provided office cleaning services at a Border Patrol station and a checkpoint in Texas, smuggled approximately 1,000 pounds of marijuana through the Border Patrol checkpoint between July 1995 and October 1997. He smuggled the 26 loads of marijuana while purporting to travel to perform his INS contract. Sentencing is pending.

• A joint Dallas Area Office and FBI investigation determined that a former BOP food service foreman smuggled heroin, marijuana, alcohol, and other contraband into the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, in return for bribes from prisoners totaling $20,000. The food service foreman was arrested and pled guilty to charges of smuggling contraband into a prison facility. Sentencing is pending.

Saturday, January 31, 1998 / Fort Worth Star-Telegram



 


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Significant Investigations



Fraud

• A 30-month investigation by the Tucson Field Office and INS resulted in the indictment of 20 individuals on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and unlawful procurement of citizenship. This investigation uncovered a nationwide scheme by private testing services that held subcontracts to administer the INS citizenship testing program. In exchange for fees ranging from $150 to $300, these testing services issued fraudulent passing grades to alien applicants seeking U.S. citizenship. As many as 13,000 aliens collectively paid over $3 million to the conspirators. Judicial proceedings continue.

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 1998




Wednesday, January 28, 1998 The Washington Post


 

• In the Western District of North Carolina, a town clerk was arrested on charges of embezzlement and theft. An investigation by the Washington Field Office and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation established that a town clerk fraudulently applied for and obtained a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant. The clerk forged the signatures of town officials and fabricated the need for an additional police officer in a town that had no police department. The clerk converted $30,722 of the $47,538 grant to his personal use. The clerk was sentenced to one year's incarceration and three years' supervised release and ordered to pay $24,693 in restitution.

• In the Northern District of California, a former INS information officer pled guilty to charges of producing false identity documents. This San Francisco Field Office investigation determined that the information officer produced and sold fraudulent INS Records of Arrival and Departure (I-94s) to Mexican nationals through family members who lived in Mexico. A search of her home found blank I-94s and INS inspection stamps. She was sentenced to 3 years' probation and 100 hours of community service.

• In the Northern District of California, a civilian was arrested on charges of impersonating a federal officer. A joint San Francisco Field Office and INS investigation revealed that the civilian posed as an INS official and charged ineligible foreign nationals several thousand dollars each for immigration benefits that he was not authorized to grant. The civilian confessed to the scheme and admitted to fraudulently obtaining approximately $10,000. Judicial proceedings continue.

• In the Northern District of Texas, a U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) senior systems administrator was arrested on charges of fraud against the government and forgery of Treasury checks. This Dallas Area Office and USMS investigation


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Significant Investigations

 

was initiated after a USMS Program Review Division audit identified purchases of prohibited items and excessive, questionable, and undocumented reimbursements. The investigation established that the administrator submitted fraudulent claims for computer contract services, altered government checks to name himself as payee, and cashed an estimated $5,000 in altered checks. Trial is pending.

• Our last Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in the District of Kansas in which a former police chief was arrested for submitting fraudulent claims and mail fraud. This Chicago Field Office investigation established that the former chief falsified a COPS grant application to obtain $5,000 to satisfy a civil suit involving the city. During this reporting period, the former police chief pled guilty to fraud. He was sentenced to two years' probation and prohibited from applying for future law enforcement monies from the Department.

Sexual Abuse and Assault

• In the Northern District of Texas, a BOP correctional officer pled guilty to charges of abusive sexual contact. A joint El Paso Field Office and BOP investigation established that the correctional officer sexually assaulted an inmate. The inmate reported the assault and cooperated in the undercover investigation. The correctional officer resigned his position with BOP and was sentenced to 18 months' incarceration.

• In the Northern District of Texas, a former BOP correctional officer pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse of a ward. This Dallas Area Office investigation revealed that the correctional officer engaged in sex with a female inmate. He resigned as a result of this investigation. Sentencing is pending.

• A U.S. Public Health Service physician's assistant under contract to provide medical care to detainees at an INS special processing center was arrested and pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse of a ward. This New York Field Office investigation established that the physician's assistant fondled a detainee while he examined her for a toothache. After failing a polygraph examination, the physician's assistant confessed to the allegation and to fondling at least 3 additional women on 20 separate occasions. Judicial proceedings continue.

• In the Northern District of Florida, a BOP correctional officer was arrested on charges of sexual abuse of a ward. This Miami Field Office investigation disclosed that the correctional officer had a sexual relationship with two inmates at the institution. BOP suspended the correctional officer without pay. Trial is pending.

• Our March 1997 Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in the Northern District of Illinois in which 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 forcibly



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Significant Investigations



fondled female juvenile aliens housed at the facility. During this reporting period, the contract employee was convicted of perjury, sentenced to two years' incarceration and three years' supervised release, and fined $200.

Obstruction of Justice

• In the Eastern District of Louisiana, a senior Border Patrol agent pled guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and bribery. This Washington Field Office and INS investigation established that the Border Patrol agent discouraged a grand jury witness from telling the truth and that the agent accepted over $1,800 in bribes from the witness to provide fraudulent work authorization documents. The investigation also confirmed that the agent accepted over $17,000 in bribes from a Louisiana businessman in exchange for taking no action against a restaurant owner who employed several illegal workers. Sentencing is pending.

• In the Southern District of California, two Imperial County sheriff's deputies pled guilty to charges of conducting a pattern of racketeering by aiding and abetting escapes, accepting bribes, obstructing justice, interfering with commerce under the color of law, and defrauding the INS immigration process. An El Paso Field Office, FBI, INS, and Imperial County Sheriff's Department undercover investigation revealed that, over an 18-month period, the deputies accepted bribes of over $8,000 to reduce inmate sentences, remove INS detainees from the sheriff's office database, manipulate the jail computer system to cause the early release of convicted offenders, and help inmates avoid deportation. Sentencing for both defendants is pending.

 

The San Diego Union-Tribune, Tuesday, February 24, 1998


 

False Statements

• In the District of Nevada, a former INS detention and deportation supervisor pled guilty to charges of false statements. This Tucson Field Office investigation developed evidence that the former supervisor altered a marriage certificate, taken from INS files, to reflect that she and a civilian were married, then presented it to Blue Cross and Blue Shield in order to obtain family health insurance coverage for the civilian and his dependant. She was terminated by INS and sentenced to 3 years' probation and 80 hours of community service.

• In the Southern District of Texas, a Mexican national was convicted on charges of false statements. This joint McAllen Field Office and FBI investigation established that the Mexican national withheld incriminating information on an INS application for lawful permanent resident alien status. During the course of this investigation, the Mexican national admitted to playing a role in the abduction and murder of a McAllen Field Office informant in June 1996. Based on his admission, the Mexican Judicial Police issued an arrest warrant for his role in the murder. Sentencing is pending.

 


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Significant Investigations


• In the Southern District of Texas, a Peruvian national was arrested and pled guilty to charges of false statements and bribery of a public official. This Houston Area Office investigation established that the Peruvian national paid an INS official, acting in an undercover capacity, $2,000 to allow him to escape from INS custody. The alien had been previously arrested by INS for attempting to enter the United States using a visa issued under an alias. He was sentenced to four months' incarceration.

• Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported a case in the District of Wyoming in which a former BOP construction specialist was convicted of making false statements relative to a Federal Workers' Compensation Program claim. During this reporting period, he was sentenced to one year's incarceration and ordered to pay $35,442 in restitution.

Alien Smuggling

• Our September 1995 Semiannual Report to Congress reported on an investigation by the New York Field Office which established that an INS immigration inspector facilitated the entry of a previously deported felon who was the subject of a law enforcement lookout. During this reporting period, the inspector was convicted on charges of alien smuggling, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting and was sentenced to 3 years' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release.



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Civil Rights

Civil Rights

The OIG, with firm support of the Attorney General, continues to play a key role in Department civil rights investigations involving 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 compiles a monthly INS 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 investigation by the El Paso Field Office focused on allegations that a Border Patrol agent sexually assaulted two undocumented female aliens who had attempted to sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border. Although criminal prosecution was declined, the investigation provided sufficient evidence of serious administrative misconduct to allow INS to terminate the Border Patrol agent.

The following chart summarizes all new allegations of civil rights violations by INS employees, and their disposition, during the 6-month period ending March 31, 1998.




 


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Investigations Statistics


The following chart summarizes the workload and accomplishments of Investigations during the 6-month period ending March 31, 1998.