USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1998 - September 30, 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 and 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 and civil and administrative action. In many instances, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) refers allegations to components within the Department for appropriate action and, in the most serious cases that are referred, reviews their findings and disciplinary action taken.

During this reporting period, Investigations received 4,088 complaints, the greatest number reported during a single semiannual reporting period. We made 57 arrests involving 27 Department employees, 28 civilians, and 2 Department contract personnel. Judicial action resulted in 55 individuals receiving sentences ranging from probation to 30 years' incarceration, and $400,045 in fines, recoveries, orders of restitution, and civil penalties. As a result of OIG investigations, 9 employees and 2 contract employees received disciplinary action, including 8 who were terminated. In addition, 21 employees resigned either during or at the conclusion of our investigations.

 

Significant Investigations


Bribery

   In the Northern District of California, a retired Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) supervisory district adjudications officer and a civilian immigration consultant were arrested on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and immigration document fraud. A San Francisco Field Office investigation led to a criminal complaint alleging that the adjudications officer, while working for INS, accepted bribes from the civilian immigration consultant and a Korean businessman and his wife to approve applications for permanent residency for their clients. The officer confessed to receiving approximately $400,000 in bribes. To date, approximately 275 ineligible aliens who benefited from this scheme have been identified. The consultant also confessed to his role in the conspiracy. The investigation continues.

   In the District of Columbia, a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) computer specialist assigned to headquarters and his brother, a Northern Virginia businessman who contracted with BOP, pled guilty to a $63,000 bribery scheme. This 3-year investigation by the Washington Field Office revealed that, during a 2-year period, the computer specialist used his position to influence the award of nine BOP contracts to his brother's business. As part of their plea agreement, the brothers reimbursed BOP $115,000 prior to their sentencing. Each was sentenced to five months' incarceration and five months' supervised release and ordered to pay an additional $20,000 for full restitution.

   In the Western District of Texas, an INS immigration inspector assigned to the Yalenta Port of Entry was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government in a document-for-money scheme. His coconspirator, a Mexican national, was arrested on bribery charges. An investigation by the OIG El Paso Field Office and U.S. Customs Service Internal Affairs discovered evidence that the immigration inspector provided four INS documents to the Mexican national in exchange for $1,800. The coconspirator was


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Significant Investigations

 

found in possession of over $10,000 at the time of his arrest, which he admitted were the proceeds from the INS document scheme he operated with the inspector. As a result, the funds were seized. The immigration inspector was sentenced to two years' incarceration and three years' supervised release and fined $2,500. The coconspirator pled guilty and was sentenced to five months' incarceration.

   In the Eastern District of Michigan, a former case manager employed by a BOP contractor pled guilty to charges of bribery. Following a joint investigation by the OIG Chicago Field Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the employee was charged with accepting leases for two automobiles, money, and free meals at restaurants in exchange for extending federal inmates' hours away from the halfway house and ensuring that the inmates passed drug screening tests. He was sentenced to eight months' incarceration and two years' supervised release.

   The OIG Atlanta Area Office and INS mounted a joint, undercover investigation in which an alien approached an INS special agent at the Gwinnett County Jail and offered the agent $10,000 to remove an INS detainer that had been lodged against the alien. In subsequent meetings, the undercover agent met with two associates of the alien and was given a total of $6,950 for removing the alien's detainer. The alien and one associate were arrested, and a warrant was issued for the second associate. Judicial proceedings continue.

   In the District of Arizona, a former BOP correctional officer previously assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Phoenix pled guilty to charges of bribery and sexual contact with a prisoner. The prisoner was charged with bribery of a public official. This Tucson Field Office investigation resulted in evidence that the former correctional officer had engaged in sexual activity with the inmate and introduced drugs into the prison in exchange for $500. The correctional officer was sentenced to 36 months' probation and fined $2,000. Judicial proceedings continue for the inmate.

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a joint investigation by the OIG Washington Field Office, INS, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) that resulted in the arrest of an ATF special agent, an immigration attorney, and two immigration brokers. During this reporting period, the attorney and the ATF agent pled guilty to charges of bribery and conspiracy, and the two immigration brokers pled guilty to conspiracy. The ATF agent and attorney were sentenced to 41 and 37 months' incarceration, respectively. The two immigration brokers were sentenced to 6 and 24 months' incarceration, respectively, and fined a total of $5,200.

  Our last Semiannual Report to Congress described a New York Field Office case in which four BOP employees pled guilty to charges of accepting bribes and introducing contraband into a federal correctional institution and two inmates pled guilty to charges of smuggling. During this reporting period, two additional BOP employees—one correctional officer and one recreational specialist—and one additional inmate were arrested and pled guilty, the employees to charges of bribery and the inmate to smuggling. Five of the BOP employees were sentenced to an average of 2 months' incarceration and 31 months' supervised release. The

 
The Washington Post Saturday, May 2, 1998


 


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Significant Investigations   


three inmates' sentences were reduced as a result of their cooperation—two were sentenced to 15 days in jail and fined $100 and the third was released. The sixth BOP employee awaits sentencing.

Drugs

   An investigation by the OIG Miami Field Office, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Customs Service, Internal Revenue Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and other state and local agencies resulted in the arrest of an INS special operations inspector for multiple violations of federal narcotics and money laundering laws. This 29-month investigation led to an indictment in the Southern District of Florida alleging that the inspector used his position to facilitate the smuggling of drugs by the Francois-Ketant drug-trafficking organization through the Miami International Airport and obtain confidential criminal intelligence information in order to warn coconspirators and help them evade justice. The indictment also alleges that the inspector laundered his drug-trafficking profits through various financial institutions by purchasing real estate. The inspector made an estimated $4.1 million for his part in this illegal narcotics operation. This investigation also resulted in the arrest of 11 codefendants, including one of the former de facto leaders of Haiti, who was also Haiti's former chief of police. Judicial proceedings continue.

The Washington Post Saturday, May 2, 1998


The Washington Times Thursday, April 23, 1998


 

   A BOP correctional officer assigned to the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) Manhattan was arrested on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and attempt to possess and distribute narcotics. In addition, the correctional officer's civilian accomplice, a former MCC inmate, was arrested on charges of conspiracy and attempting to possess and distribute narcotics. A New York Field Office undercover investigation led to a complaint, issued in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the correctional officer approached a cooperating inmate incarcerated at MCC and offered that he and a civilian accomplice would rob the inmate's rival drug dealer's storage facility of approximately 120 kilograms of cocaine in exchange for proceeds from the future sale of the drugs. The complaint also alleges that the correctional officer accepted a $1,500 bribe in exchange for bringing the inmate contraband including alcohol and food. A third coconspirator is being sought. Judicial proceedings continue.


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Significant Investigations


   An INS contract security guard and a detainee were arrested on charges of distribution of methamphetamine at INS' El Centro detention facility. An OIG El Centro Area Office and FBI investigation established that, over an 8month period, the guard sold narcotics to detainees inside the facility. In addition, the guard sold narcotics outside the facility to a former detainee after he had been released from INS custody. The guard admitted to OIG agents that he made approximately $2,000 from the sale of narcotics to detainees. Both subjects await trial.

   In the Southern District of Texas, a former INS detention enforcement officer previously assigned to the Laredo Detention Facility was arrested and pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The OIG McAllen Field Office assisted in an investigation by the U.S. Customs Service that led to an indictment alleging that, between May 1992 and October 1994, the detention enforcement officer and others conspired to possess and distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. The officer admitted to OIG agents that he had transported 60,000 pounds of marijuana from Laredo to San Antonio, Texas, using his INS uniform and credentials and his familiarity with Border Patrol agents to pass through Border Patrol checkpoints approximately 300 times without detection. Sentencing is pending.

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on Operation BAJA BLITZ, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation by the OIG San Diego Field Office and DEA that targeted suspected drug traffickers seeking INS documents. This joint investigation led to the guilty plea of a major Mexican drug trafficker with ties to the Cali Cartel for conspiring to distribute a half ton of cocaine in South Texas. During this reporting period, he was sentenced in the Southern District of Texas to 15 years' incarceration and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine. The drug trafficker still faces charges in the Southern District of California that he 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). Three other Mexican nationals who paid a total of $80,000 in bribes for three I-688s remain fugitives.

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in the Northern District of Texas in which a former BOP food service foreman pled guilty to charges of smuggling contraband into a prison facility. During this reporting period, the former BOP employee was sentenced to 46 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release.

Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

   In the Southern District of California, a BOP correctional officer assigned to MCC San Diego was arrested and pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse of a ward. A joint investigation by the OIG San Diego Field Office and FBI established that the correctional officer had two sexual encounters with an inmate. The correctional officer resigned as a result of this investigation and was later sentenced to 2 months' incarceration and 36 months' supervised release.

 


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Significant Investigations

   In the Southern District of California, an INS detention enforcement officer was arrested on charges relating to possessing, sending, and receiving material involving the sexual exploitation of minors. A joint OIG San Diego Field Office and FBI investigation led to an indictment alleging that the detention enforcement officer sent and received child pornography via the Internet using his home computer. The investigation was initiated after the FBI received information from an undercover deputy sheriff in Virginia who was communicating with the detention enforcement officer via the Internet regarding the sale of pornographic material involving children. Judicial proceedings continue.

Theft

   In the Central District of California, a former INS supervisory information officer and three civilians were arrested and pled guilty to charges of altering U.S. Postal money orders. This joint OIG Los Angeles Field Office and U.S. Postal Service investigation determined that the information officer stole approximately $34,000 in money orders submitted by aliens to INS as payment for various application fees. The civilians then cashed the money orders. The three civilians were sentenced to probation and ordered to make restitution. The INS employee awaits sentencing.

   In the Northern District of Texas, a former chief of police was indicted for conspiring to misapply federal program funds. This Dallas Area Office investigation determined that, during the time the police chief was in office, he received approximately $3,600 in kickbacks from an officer hired with Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant funds. Trial is pending.

Abilene Reporter-News Thursday, Aug. 20, 1998

 

   In the Southern District of Texas, an INS immigration inspector was arrested and pled guilty to charges of theft of government property. A McAllen Field Office investigation led to the immigration inspector's admission that, while working as a cashier at the Laredo Port of Entry, he embezzled over $2,000 in fees paid for entry into the United States. As a result of this investigation and other concerns, the Dallas Regional Audit Office initiated an audit of INS' collection of land border fees.

   In the Western District of Washington, an INS clerk and a civilian coconspirator were arrested on charges of theft of government property and conspiracy. This Seattle Area Office investigation led to an indictment alleging that the INS clerk stole over 70 checks and money orders that were submitted to INS as application fees. The clerk and the coconspirator altered the payee portion to reflect the civilian's name, deposited the altered items into the civilian's bank account, withdrew the cash, and split the proceeds—approximately $8,000. Both pled guilty and await sentencing.


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Significant Investigations

Fraud

   In the Northern District of Georgia, an INS supply technician was arrested on state charges of forgery. A joint OIG Atlanta Area Office and Dekalb County Police Department investigation was initiated after a former INS employee was contacted by a major credit card company concerning an application for credit that she did not submit. The investigation established that the supply technician used the identities and forged the signatures of several former and deceased INS employees to obtain credit cards. The supply technician resigned from INS, pled guilty, and was sentenced to 2 years' probation and 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $300 fine.

   In the Central District of California, an INS detention enforcement officer was arrested on charges of making false statements and theft of government monies in a travel voucher fraud scheme. This Los Angeles Field Office investigation established that the employee, while on extended detail as an instructor, filed several false travel vouchers claiming she was staying at a local motel when in fact she was staying with another INS employee. The detention enforcement officer has been placed on administrative leave pending judicial proceedings.

Alien Smuggling

   In the Southern District of Texas, a Border Patrol detention enforcement officer and his civilian girlfriend pled guilty to charges of alien smuggling. A joint investigation by the OIG McAllen Field Office and U.S. Border Patrol Anti-Smuggling Unit established that the detention enforcement officer and his girlfriend conspired to transport 15 undocumented El Salvadoran and Mexican aliens into the United States and harbor them to avoid detection. The detention enforcement officer was arrested at the U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint in Sarita, Texas, where he was stopped for a routine vehicle inspection that revealed the aliens in the back of his personal van. Sentencing is pending for both defendants.

Thursday, August 13, 1998 n THE MONITOR, McAllen, Texas

 

Obstruction of Justice

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a joint investigation by the OIG Washington Field Office and INS that resulted in the arrest and guilty plea of a Border Patrol agent on charges of obstruction of justice and bribery. During this reporting period, the Border Patrol agent was sentenced to 24 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release.

 


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Significant Investigations

Perjury

   In the Southern District of Texas, an INS special agent was arrested on charges of perjury and entered into a pre-trial diversion agreement that bars him from future employment as a law enforcement officer. This Houston Area Office investigation obtained evidence that the special agent testified falsely to a grand jury regarding an alien smuggling investigation, which resulted in the indictment of an individual for alien smuggling. Upon discovery of the special agent's false testimony, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas dismissed the charge against the alleged alien smuggler.

Homicide

   A Border Patrol agent assigned to the Border Patrol station in Nogales, Arizona, was arrested on a warrant issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York on charges of murder of a Columbian cocaine supplier. An investigation by the OIG New York Field Office, DEA, and the New York Police Department led to the Border Patrol agent's confession that, prior to becoming an agent, he murdered the drug dealer in Brooklyn, New York, during a drug deal. Judicial proceedings continue.

 

Civil  Rights

 

Civil Rights

The OIG 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 to investigate such matters. The OIG also compiles a monthly INS civil rights report that is distributed to the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, INS, FBI, Civil Rights Division, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, and U.S. Attorneys Offices along the Southwest Border. The report tracks the status of all significant INS civil rights matters.

Investigating Civil Rights Allegations

   An investigation by the OIG San Diego Field Office and FBI resulted in charges against an INS detention enforcement officer for physically abusing a Mexican national in his custody. A trial resulted in a hung jury, but the detention enforcement officer subsequently pled guilty to charges of civil rights violations. Sentencing is pending.

   In the Southern District of Texas, an INS immigration inspector was arrested on charges of bribery, fraud, and deprivation of rights under color of law. A McAllen Field Office investigation, assisted by the FBI, led to an indictment alleging that the immigration inspector demanded sexual favors from a female Mexican citizen in return for fraudulent

 


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Civil  Rights


immigration documents seized by the inspector and that he committed a willful sexual assault while acting under color of law. The inspector was suspended from INS without pay. Trial is pending.

The following chart summarizes new allegations of civil rights violations by INS employees, and their disposition, during the 6-month period ending September 30, 1998.

 

Civil Rights Initiatives

The San Diego Field Office participates, along with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California, Civil Rights Section of the Criminal Division, and FBI, in a Civil Rights Task Force that addresses official misconduct violations. The Task Force provides San Diego and Imperial Counties with a comprehensive law enforcement response to allegations of physical abuse, economic exploitation, and illegal employment.

During this reporting period, the Task Force arrested a San Diego woman on charges of impersonating a federal official and exploiting Mexican nationals. This investigation led to an indictment alleging that the woman posed as an INS official and falsely promised to legalize the status of undocumented aliens in return for payment by manufacturing fraudulent INS I-797 (Notice of Action) forms and presenting them to her alien clients as temporary Green Cards. The subject charged between $1,000 and $3,000 for her services and is believed to have defrauded at least 82 individuals. Judicial proceedings continue.


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Investigations Statistics


The following chart summarizes the workload and accomplishments of Investigations during the 6-month period ending September 30, 1998.