Houma Interpreter Pleads Guilty on Day of Trial
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that TRINA MARIE BOURG, age 45, of Houma, entered a plea of guilty to all five counts of a Superseding Indictment for crimes involving the solicitation of illegal payments from undocumented clients and their family members.
BOURG faces a term of incarceration of up to of twenty years and a fine of $250,000 per count. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan set sentencing for November 4, 2015.
According to court records, on May 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) received information that BOURG, who worked as a Spanish language interpreter contract employee for the Office of the District Defender for the 32nd Judicial District for Terrebonne Parish (“Public Defender’s Office”), was soliciting illegal payments from undocumented clients. According to a Factual Basis filed today in federal court, BOURG, while providing Spanish interpreting services for attorneys employed by the Public Defender’s Office, identified clients facing criminal charges who were subject to potential removal from the United States. BOURG then initiated contact with the client, or the client’s family, outside of the presence or knowledge of their court appointed attorney and falsely represented to the client or the client’s family that for a certain amount of money, she could bribe federal immigration officials not to seek federal prosecution or initiate removal proceedings against the client. BOURG charged the client, or the client’s family, approximately $2,000 to $4,000 and said she would use the money to pay federal immigration officials in order to secure the client’s release from immigration custody. BOURG pled guilty to knowingly devising a scheme and artifice to defraud undocumented Hispanic aliens and through false material misrepresentation was able to accomplish her scheme through lies, misrepresentations, coercion, and threats.
In 2011 and again in 2014, BOURG solicited illegal payments totaling more than $5,000 from Client “A” and his family members. BOURG admitted to employing threats and intimidation to coerce the family members into paying BOURG.
The Superseding Indictment also alleged that for a payment of $12,000 to $20,000, BOURG offered to marry one of her clients in order to improve his immigration status. Further, the Superseding Indictment alleged that BOURG attempted to have a client transfer the title of his vehicle and other property to BOURG.
It is important to note that no federal immigration officials have been implicated in this investigation, nor is it believed that any federal officials were complicit in BOURG’s crimes. BOURG was originally indicted in August 2014.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security-HSI (McAllen, TX and Houma, LA offices), the Louisiana State Police-Criminal Investigation Division, and the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office in investigating this matter. Fraud Unit Chief, Assistant U. S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marquest Meeks are in charge of the prosecution.