A former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) special agent in charge and another special agent were indicted in the Southern District of Texas late yesterday for their roles in a scheme to falsify records and to obstruct an internal field office inspection, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez of the FBI San Antonio Field Office.
The indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Brownsville, Texas, charges Eugenio Pedraza, 49, of McAllen, Texas, with six counts of falsification of records in federal investigations, five counts of obstructing an agency proceeding, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of conspiracy. The indictment also charges Marco Rodriguez, 40, of Mission, Texas, with two counts of falsification of records in federal investigations, two counts of obstructing an agency proceeding and one count of conspiracy.
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 the indictment, in September 2011, DHS-OIG conducted an internal inspection of its McAllen Field Office to evaluate whether its internal investigative standards and policies were being followed. At that time, Pedraza was the special agent in charge of the McAllen Field Office, and Rodriguez was a special agent stationed there. According to the indictment, in anticipation of the inspection, Pedraza allegedly directed Rodriguez and other DHS-OIG employees to engage in a scheme to falsify documents in open criminal investigative case files, including numerous investigations in which DHS employees were suspected of participating in the unlawful smuggling of undocumented aliens and/or narcotics into the United States.
More specifically, the indictment charges that at Pedraza’s direction, DHS-OIG employees allegedly created and placed into these investigative files backdated memoranda of activity that falsely reflected investigative activity by agents that had not occurred; backdated case review worksheets that falsely reflected supervisory case reviews that Pedraza had not conducted with his subordinate agents; and backdated, unsent letters that were signed by Pedraza and purported to inform the FBI of the opening of a DHS-OIG investigation.
According to the indictment, the scheme’s purpose was to conceal severe lapses in DHS-OIG’s investigative standards from individuals conducting an internal field office inspection. The scheme was allegedly devised to conceal Pedraza’s failure to ensure that investigations were being conducted promptly and thoroughly, his failure to provide his subordinates with adequate training and supervision, and his failure to ensure that the FBI was being timely notified of DHS-OIG’s investigations.
The indictment also charges Pedraza with allegedly directing two DHS-OIG employees to falsify memoranda of activity on additional occasions, and with obstructing justice by removing the falsified supervisory case review sheets that he had created from DHS-OIG files after becoming aware of the FBI and grand jury investigation into his conduct.
In a related case, on Jan. 17, 2013, Wayne Ball, a former DHS-OIG special agent, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane to one count of a multi-object conspiracy to falsify records in federal investigations and to obstruct an agency proceeding for his participation in the scheme. Ball is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31, 2013.
The charge of falsification of records in federal investigations carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charge of obstructing an agency proceeding carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The charge of obstruction of justice carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Each of these charges carry a maximum fine of $250,000.
An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Eric L. Gibson and Timothy J. Kelly of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by agents of the FBI, San Antonio Division.