Former U.S. Congressional Aide Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court For Accepting Illegal Gratuities
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that SAMUEL PIERRE, who was employed by a Member of Congress at the time of his offense, was sentenced yesterday in Manhattan federal court to three months home confinement for accepting an illegal gratuity in return for promising to provide immigration-related assistance that never was provided. PIERRE’s co-defendant, KENOL JANVIER, previously was sentenced to four months home confinement for his role in the offense. PIERRE and JANVIER both were sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox.
According to court filings and statements made in court:
From 2007 to July 2009, PIERRE was employed by a Member of Congress as a Brooklyn South Liaison in the Congressman's District Office in Brooklyn, New York. As the Brooklyn South Liaison, PIERRE's job responsibilities included helping the Congressman's constituents with immigration-related issues, by, for example, inquiring about the status of constituents' immigration-related matters pending before the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”).
In the late spring or early summer of 2008, PIERRE was a guest on a radio show hosted by JANVIER and they discussed, among other things, PIERRE’s job with the Congressman and issues related to the Haitian community, including immigration. During the radio show, listeners were invited to call in with any questions, but rather than help certain listeners who called the show seeking immigration-related advice, JANVIER and/or PIERRE instructed them to call "the office" for free assistance. The “office” phone number, however, was JANVIER’s cellphone number and when listeners called it, JANVIER arranged to meet them in person. JANVIER then met with these individuals and promised that PIERRE and he would be able to assist them with their immigration-related matters in exchange for a set fee. JANVIER took hundreds of dollars from the individuals as a down payment for the promised help with their immigration-related matter.
Thereafter, PIERRE and JANVIER spoke to the individuals on the phone, including using a landline phone at the Congressman’s District Office, regarding the remainder of the fee due, which some of them later paid to JANVIER. In connection with the scheme, PIERRE sent e-mails using his Congressional e-mail account in which he, on behalf of the Congressman’s Office, inquired about the status of these individuals’ immigration-related matters and claimed that the individuals were constituents of the Congressman when, in truth and in fact, they were not. The individuals were unaware that these e-mails had been sent and never received any actual assistance with their immigration-related matters from either PIERRE or JANVIER.
When the individuals who had paid JANVIER to help them tried to contact PIERRE and JANVIER to inquire about the status of their immigration matters, including visiting PIERRE at the Congressman’s Office, PIERRE and JANVIER either did not return the calls or continued to promise to help them but did not. Later, when the individuals demanded the return of their money, PIERRE and JANVIER ignored their requests and never paid them back. In connection with the scheme, PIERRE took money and things of value from JANVIER. In addition, PIERRE took money from JANVIER in connection with JANVIER’s own immigration matter and sent e-mails from his Congressional e-mail account to DHS and wrote a letter from the Congressman’s Office to a federal government immigration office about JANVIER’s immigration application.
In addition to home confinement, Judge Fox sentenced PIERRE, 29, of Brooklyn, New York, to three years of probation and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine and a $25 special assessment fee. In addition, PIERRE was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $11,300 joint and several with JANVIER.
JANVIER, 45, of Brooklyn, New York, previously was sentenced on April 24, 2014, by Judge Fox to four months home confinement and three years of probation and was ordered to pay a $25 special assessment fee. In addition, JANVIER was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $11,300 joint and several with PIERRE.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
These prosecutions are being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Carrie H. Cohen is in charge of the prosecutions.