United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Officer Charged with Accepting a Bribe
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Officer Jovany Perez, 34, of Miami, Florida, was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with receiving a bribe while a public official.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Jay Donly, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General (DHS-OIG), made the announcement.
According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint, on April 20, 2017, Perez interviewed a female alien beneficiary in his capacity as a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) officer. The interview related to the validity of the beneficiary’s marriage, which would have afforded her lawful permanent residency in the United States if found to be valid. During the interview, Officer Perez confronted the beneficiary with his belief that her marriage was fraudulent. Perez completed a written statement, purporting to be a confession by beneficiary that she had committed marriage fraud. He directed the beneficiary to sign the statement. The beneficiary signed the written statement and submitted it to Perez. At the conclusion of the interview, Perez provided the beneficiary with his contact information and told her that he could help her with her case, but that he could not do so at the USCIS office.
Later that same day, the beneficiary contacted Perez and they scheduled to meet later that day in the parking lot of a restaurant located in Miami-Dade County. During the meeting, while sitting with the beneficiary in his vehicle, Perez fondled the beneficiary’s breasts, asked her whether she was wearing a wire, and exposed his penis to her. Perez also explained to her that he was the ultimate decision maker in her case, and stated that the two could have a sexual encounter there in the vehicle. The beneficiary declined and the two agreed to meet on a later date.
On May 9, 2017, the beneficiary met with Perez and Perez informed her that he possessed her file, that he would remove her written statement from the file, and that he would replace it with another statement that he would help her draft. When the beneficiary asked Perez what she would have to do in exchange for his assistance, Perez stated that she could pay him money. The two agreed that the beneficiary would pay Perez $2,000.00 in exchange for his assistance.
May 17, 2017, Perez accepted $2,000.00 from the beneficiary, in return for his promise to remove the previously-written statement regarding the validity of her marriage and replace it with a statement to assist her permanent residency petition. Perez was arrested that same day.
Perez is scheduled to be arraigned on June 1, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. before the U.S. Magistrate Duty Judge in Miami.
Mr. Greenberg commends the investigative efforts of the DHS-OIG. This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Michele Vigilance and Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Kahn Obenauf.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida atwww.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.