A former special agent of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) pleaded guilty today in a Southern District of Texas federal court to participating in a scheme to falsify records and to obstruct an internal field office inspection, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Wayne Ball, 40, of McAllen, Texas, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane to one count of conspiracy to falsify records in federal investigations and to obstruct an agency proceeding.
DHS-OIG is the principal component within DHS with the responsibility to investigate alleged criminal activity by DHS employees, including corruption affecting the integrity of U.S. borders. According to court documents, Ball served as a special agent with DHS-OIG at its McAllen Field Office from January 2009 to November 2012.
According to court documents, in September 2011, DHS-OIG conducted an internal inspection of the field office to evaluate whether its internal investigative standards and policies were being followed. Beginning in August 2011, Ball and at least two other DHS-OIG employees, identified in court documents as “Supervisor A” and “Special Agent A,” allegedly engaged in a scheme to falsify documents in investigative case files. The scheme’s purpose was to conceal lapses – including significant periods of inactivity in pending criminal investigations over periods of months or years – from personnel conducting the inspection and DHS-OIG headquarters, including by falsifying investigative activity which had not taken place, according to court documents.
According to court documents, a criminal investigation was initiated by DHS-OIG in March 2010 into allegations that a Customs and Border Protection officer was assisting the unlawful smuggling of undocumented aliens and narcotics into the United States. Special Agent A allegedly drafted false memoranda of activity (MOAs), at Supervisor A’s direction, to fill gaps of inactivity in the investigation, to which Special Agent A was assigned. With the intention of filling gaps that had occurred when Special Agent A was either not present at the office to investigate cases or was not employed by DHS-OIG at all, Special Agent A allegedly attributed the investigative activity to Ball, who signed and backdated the false MOAs. Supervisor A also allegedly signed and backdated the documents, which were placed in the investigation’s case file in advance of the internal inspection.
The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Ball is scheduled to be sentenced on April 16, 2013.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Timothy J. Kelly and Eric L. Gibson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by agents of the FBI, San Antonio Division.