USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1998 - March 31, 1999

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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 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 10 field offices located in Washington, D.C., Chicago, El Paso, Los Angeles, McAllen, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Tucson, and 7 smaller, area offices located 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 five branches: Operations, Investigative Support, Information Resource Management, Policy and Administration, and Research and Analysis Unit (RAU). RAU is located in New York.

Geographic areas covered by the field offices are indicated on the map below. In addition, the San Francisco office covers Alaska, and the San Diego office covers Hawaii.

 

 Map - Geographic Areas Covered by the Investigations Division

 

During this reporting period, Investigations received 3,881 complaints. We made 75 arrests involving 27 Department employees, 34 civilians, and 14 Department contract personnel. Convictions resulted in 49 individuals receiving sentences up to life in prison and $2,808,038 in fines, recoveries, orders of restitution, and forfeiture. As a result of OIG investigations, 32 employees and 3 contract employees received disciplinary action, including 6 who were terminated. In addition, 22 employees resigned either during or at the conclusion of our investigations. 

 

 


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Overview and Highlights

 

In recent years, Investigations has seen a substantial increase in the number of BOP employees and contract employees arrested on charges relating to unlawful dealings with prisoners, including introduction of drugs or other contraband into prisons and engaging in sexual relations with inmates. Of the employees and contract employees arrested this reporting period, 24 were BOP correctional workers. These arrests represent 59 percent of the employees and contract employees arrested by the OIG and 32 percent of our arrests overall. The number of BOP arrests resulting from OIG investigations has tripled since the semiannual reporting period in 1997 when eight correctional officers were arrested on charges arising from unlawful dealings with convicted persons. Brief discussions of some of these investigations are included on the following pages in the Introduction of Contraband and Sexual Assault sections.

During this reporting period, RAU and BOP's research and internal affairs offices completed approximately 95 percent of the file review and data collection phase of the BOP Corruption Study. This study will identify individual, organizational, and environmental causes of corruption and serious misconduct and propose new strategies to detect, deter, and prevent corruption. RAU also implemented "SACS," a statistics-based management report that will provide information on standardized performance indicators for use in improving operations and performance within Investigations. SACS data will inform strategic responses to national and local corruption and misconduct trends and engage field office managers in collaborative management and strategic decision making.

 

Significant Investigations

Bribery

   In the Southern District of Florida, nine former correctional aides previously assigned to Spectrum Community Corrections Center—a BOP contract halfway house facility—were arrested on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and aiding and abetting. Eight defendants pled guilty and await sentencing. A 9-month investigation by the Miami Field Office uncovered a widespread bribery and corruption scheme in which several correctional aides demanded and received cash bribes from inmates to allow them to leave the halfway house facility after hours and overnight without proper authorization. This investigation also resulted in evidence that these correctional aides took cash bribes to alter and falsify inmates' urine samples and sign-in and sign-out records.

   In the Central District of California, an INS political asylum adjudicator was alleged to have solicited and accepted bribes in exchange for favorable adjudication of aliens applying for political asylum within the United States. Undercover agents from the Los Angeles Field Office paid the INS employee approximately $2,500 in bribes to favorably process a previously denied asylum application and a new application for an unqualified alien applicant. The INS employee was indicted and arrested on charges of bribery, visa fraud, and false statements.

   In the Southern District of Florida, a BOP correctional officer assigned to the Federal Detention Center in Miami was arrested on charges of bribery and accepting compensation in matters affecting the government. A joint investigation by the OIG Miami Field Office and HIDTA task force led to a criminal complaint alleging that the correctional officer accepted $3,000 in exchange for testifying on behalf of an inmate during trial and for inmate favors.

 


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Significant Investigations

 

   Two Mexican nationals were arrested in the Southern District of Texas on charges of conspiracy and bribery of a public official. An investigation by the McAllen Field Office determined that the married couple attempted to persuade an INS special agent to suspend an ongoing investigation and provide valid INS documents for their family. The couple was arrested after making two separate payments totaling $12,000 to the agent for his anticipated cooperation.

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a joint investigation by the OIG El Paso Field Office and U.S. Customs Service Internal Affairs that resulted in the sentencing of an INS immigration inspector to two years' incarceration for selling INS documents. During this reporting period, the immigration inspector was tried and convicted on additional charges for bribing a public official. The jury found the inspector guilty of accepting a cellular telephone in return for allowing vehicles into the United States from Mexico without inspection—one of which was found to contain 400 pounds of marijuana. He was sentenced to 87 months' incarceration to be served concurrently with his previously imposed 2-year sentence. Two civilian co-conspirators pled guilty to drug smuggling charges and were sentenced to 37 and 20 months' incarceration, respectively.

Introduction of Contraband

   A correctional officer assigned to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan and two ex-inmates were arrested and convicted on federal narcotics and bribery charges in the Southern District of New York. An investigation by the New York Field Office resulted in evidence that the correctional officer accepted approximately $5,000 in bribes, using the two ex-inmates as middlemen, in exchange for providing contraband to a cooperating inmate. In addition, the correctional officer conspired with one of the ex-inmates and a civilian to steal more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from a Brooklyn warehouse. The civilian remains at large.

   A BOP contract employee—a rabbi who conducted religious services at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Ray Brook—was arrested on charges of smuggling contraband into a federal prison. An investigation by the New York Field Office led to a criminal complaint issued in the Northern District of New York alleging that the rabbi conspired with several FCI Ray Brook inmates to smuggle drugs and other contraband to inmates who participated in the rabbi's religious services. The investigation determined that the inmates sold the drugs within the prison, laundered the proceeds through the prison commissary system, and sent the money back to their street contacts. Two inmates were arrested on charges of organizing a drug distribution network. The investigation continues.
THE BOSTON GLOBE • FRIDAY, OCT. 16, 1998
News Article - Rabbi Charged in Prison Drug Deal - The Boston Globe (10/16/98)

 


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Significant Investigations

 

   A BOP correctional officer, previously assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary (USP) Beaumont, was arrested and pled guilty to charges of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. His civilian conspirator, the mother of a USP Beaumont inmate, was arrested on charges of conspiracy, providing contraband to federal inmates, and distributing a controlled substance. An investigation by the Houston Area Office, assisted by the New York Field Office, resulted in evidence that the correctional officer telephoned his drug orders to the inmate's mother, who mailed him drugs for distribution within the correctional institution.

   In the Eastern District of Texas, a BOP contract employee assigned to the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont as a property inventory clerk and an inmate housed at USP Beaumont were arrested on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. An investigation by the Houston Area Office led to an indictment alleging that the contract clerk and inmate conspired with other BOP inmates to introduce narcotics into USP Beaumont.

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a case in which an INS contract security guard and a detainee were arrested on charges of distributing methamphetamine inside the INS Service Processing Center in El Centro, California. During this reporting period, the guard was sentenced to two years' incarceration and three years' supervised release, and the detainee was sentenced to six months' incarceration and will be deported after serving his sentence.

Drug Smuggling

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a joint investigation by the OIG Miami Field Office, DEA, IRS, U.S. Customs Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and other state and local agencies that resulted in the arrest of an INS special operations inspector and 11 co-defendants for multiple violations of federal narcotics and money laundering laws. During this reporting period, five co-defendants and the special operations inspector were convicted in the Southern District of Florida. Three of the defendants, including the special operations inspector, were sentenced to life in prison. In addition, an asset forfeiture order was issued against the special operations inspector for $2.5 million. In total, this investigation led to the conviction of 13 defendants for their involvement in the drug smuggling scheme.

   Our March 1998 Semiannual Report to Congress described a case in which a Border Patrol agent used an official government vehicle to smuggle more than 600 pounds of marijuana into the United States. During this reporting period, the Border Patrol agent was sentenced to five years' incarceration and four years' supervised release on charges of distribution of a controlled substance.

 


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Significant Investigations

 

Sexual Abuse

   A federal grand jury in the Northern District of California returned a 22-count indictment against a former BOP correctional officer, previously assigned to FCI Dublin. An investigation by the OIG San Francisco Field Office, FBI, and BOP led to an indictment charging the correctional officer with 17 counts of sexual abuse of a ward and abusive sexual contact involving four female inmates over several months. He also was charged with five counts of perjury and false statements made to the FBI and the OIG in connection with this investigation and an investigation of previous sexual misconduct involving two other inmates. The correctional officer resigned his position with BOP during the investigation and was subsequently arrested.

 

San Francisco Chronicle                                           FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1999 News Article - Guard Accused of Having Sex with Prisoners - San Francisco Chronicle (2/19/99)

 

   A U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) detention enforcement officer was arrested in the Western District of Texas on charges of abusive sexual contact. A joint investigation by the OIG El Paso Field Office and USMS Office of Internal Affairs led to an indictment alleging that, over a 2-year period, the officer forced five inmates and one civilian to engage in sexual relations. The officer was convicted and awaits sentencing.

   In the District of Puerto Rico, two BOP correctional officers assigned to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo were arrested on charges of sexual abuse of a ward. A joint investigation by the OIG Miami Field Office, FBI, and BOP led to an indictment alleging that the two correctional officers engaged in sex acts with a female inmate. One of the correctional officers was convicted and awaits sentencing. Judicial proceedings continue for the second correctional officer.

   In the Northern District of Texas, a former BOP correctional treatment specialist assigned to FCI Seagoville pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse of a ward and was sentenced to 12 months' probation and 50 hours' community service. A Dallas Area Office investigation developed evidence that the staff member engaged in a sexual relationship with an inmate. The correctional treatment specialist resigned her position with BOP.

   In the Southern District of Texas, a former BOP cook supervisor previously assigned to the Federal Prison Camp in Byran was arrested on charges of sexual abuse of a ward and abusive sexual contact. An investigation by the Houston Area Office led to an indictment alleging that the BOP employee engaged in sexual activity with three female inmates on six different occasions and that he engaged in sexual contact with a fourth female inmate over a 3-month period.


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Significant Investigations

 

Fraud

   The owner and operator of Georgia Southside Commercial Corporation (GSCC) was arrested in the Northern District of Georgia on a 15-count indictment charging false claims and aiding and abetting. This joint OIG Atlanta Area Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), and Housing and Urban Development investigation established that the GSCC owner, acting as a subcontractor, submitted false invoices to BOP, a U.S. Marine Logistics Base, and the Public Housing Authority. The inflated invoices included $476,545 billed to BOP.

   A former chief of the Manchester, Ohio, Police Department (MOPD) pled guilty to making false statements and embezzlement. A joint investigation by the OIG Chicago Field Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and the FBI revealed that the police chief falsified COPS grant applications and obtained approximately $45,000 that the MOPD was not entitled to receive. The investigation further determined that the chief sold a truck donated by DCIS for use in MOPD's "War Against Drugs" program and converted the $5,000 in proceeds to his personal use. Sentencing is pending.

   An investigation by the Chicago Field Office led to an indictment in the District of South Dakota alleging that a former Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribal chief of police and a tribal police sergeant falsified a COPS report to show that a part-time officer hired under this program was paid using COPS funds when, in fact, the defendants used these funds to pay themselves. The former police chief and sergeant were arrested on charges of conspiracy to defraud, false claims, theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and making false statements. The investigation continues.

   A former INS immigration inspector previously assigned to the Phoenix District Tucson Sub Office was arrested and pled guilty to charges of fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents. An investigation by the Tucson Field Office led to the filing of a criminal information alleging that the immigration inspector issued an I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure) to a person not entitled to receive one. A search warrant executed on her home found prestamped I-94 cards. She resigned and was sentenced to 36 months' probation to include 180 days of home confinement and 300 hours of community service.

Theft

   A former INS supervisory information officer, previously assigned to the INS District Office in Portland, Oregon, was arrested and pled guilty to theft of public funds. An investigation by the Seattle Area Office developed evidence that, over a 2-year period, the information officer stole more than $39,000 in application fees submitted by persons seeking immigration benefits. In an interview with OIG agents, the information officer, a 25-year veteran of INS, admitted stealing the application fees to support her gambling habit. Following her admission, she resigned from INS and awaits sentencing.

 


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Significant Investigations

 

   An INS supervisory immigration examiner and a clerk assigned to the INS East Los Angeles Legalization Office were arrested and pled guilty to charges of theft of government funds. An investigation by the Los Angeles Field Office developed evidence that the supervisory immigration examiner, who was in charge of the Legalization Office, and her timekeeper were involved in a time and attendance fraud scheme in which they claimed overtime for hours they did not work. During interviews with OIG agents, each admitted receiving approximately $6,000 in fraudulent overtime payments. Sentencing is pending.

Alien Smuggling

   In the Eastern District of North Carolina, a former INS immigration inspector, previously assigned to the Wilmington, North Carolina, POE, was arrested and pled guilty to charges of transporting an illegal alien within the United States. An investigation by the Washington Field Office developed evidence that the immigration inspector helped aliens illegally enter and travel within the United States, arranged for their employment, and housed them at his residence. The immigration inspector resigned from INS and awaits sentencing.

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a joint investigation by the OIG McAllen Field Office and the U.S. Border Patrol Anti-Smuggling Unit that resulted in the guilty pleas of a Border Patrol detention enforcement officer and his civilian girlfriend for smuggling undocumented aliens into the United States and harboring them to avoid detection. During this reporting period, the detention enforcement officer was sentenced to 37 months' incarceration, 3 years' supervised release, and 200 hours of community service. His girlfriend was sentenced to 10 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release and fined $2,000.  

Saturday, November 7, 1998 - THE MONITOR, McAllen, Texas
News Article - Officer Receives 37-month Sentence - The Monitor, McAllen, Texas (11/7/98)

 

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 non-criminal 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 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 (EOUSA), and USAOs along the Southwest Border. The report tracks the status of all significant INS civil rights matters.

 


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Civil Rights

 

Investigating Civil Rights Allegations

   Our last Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a case in the Southern District of Texas in which an INS immigration inspector was arrested on charges of bribery, fraud, and deprivation of rights under color of law. An investigation by the OIG McAllen Field Office, assisted by the FBI, developed evidence that the immigration inspector demanded sexual favors from a female Mexican citizen in return for fraudulent immigration documents he had seized and that he committed a willful sexual assault while acting under color of law. During this reporting period the immigration inspector was convicted and awaits sentencing.

   Our September 1997 Semiannual Report to Congress reported a case in which an INS detention officer was arrested on charges of civil rights violations. A joint investigation by the OIG San Diego Field Office and the FBI as part of the San Diego, California, Civil Rights Task Force developed evidence that the detention officer physically assaulted two aliens in his custody. This trial resulted in a hung jury. The detention officer subsequently pled guilty to violating the civil rights of one of the undocumented aliens. He was sentenced to five years' supervised probation.

Civil Rights Initiatives

The San Diego Field Office participates, along with the USAO for the Southern District of California, Civil Rights Section of the Criminal Division, INS, and the 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, a San Diego woman pled guilty to charges of impersonating a federal officer and document fraud and was sentenced to 63 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release. As reported in our last Semiannual Report to Congress, this Task Force investigation developed evidence that the woman defrauded undocumented immigrants by selling them phony immigration documents and impersonating an INS employee. The woman admitted that she defrauded 99 aliens and charged them between $800 and $2,400 for her services.

Due in part to the above investigation, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, the City Attorney for the City of San Diego, and the Mexican Consul for San Diego jointly announced the Immigration Fraud Initiative for San Diego County. This Initiative calls for a partnership to eradicate and deter the economic exploitation of immigrants by outlaw immigration "practitioners" in San Diego County through investigations, prosecutions, and public awareness.

 


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Investigations Statistics

 

The following chart summarizes the workload and accomplishments of Investigations during the 6-month period ending March 31, 1999.

 

Investigations Statistics

Source of Allegations
Hotline (telephone and mail) 506
Other sources 3,375
Total allegations received 3,881
Investigative Caseload
Investigations opened this period 289
Investigations closed this period 399
Investigations in progress as of 3/31/99 525
Prosecutive Actions
Criminal indictments/informations 71
Arrests 75
Convictions/Pleas 65
Monetary Results
Fines/Restitutions/Recoveries $308,038
Seizures $31,490
Bribe monies deposited to the Treasury $232,780
Forfeiture $2,500,00