October 1, 2001–March 31, 2002
Office of the Inspector General
THE INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION
The Investigations Division (Investigations) investigates allegations of bribery, fraud, abuse, civil rights violations, and violations of other laws and procedures that govern Department employees, contractors, and grantees. Investigations develops cases for criminal prosecution and civil and administrative action. In many instances, the OIG refers less serious allegations to components within the Department for appropriate action.
Investigations carries out its mission through the work of its special agents who are assigned to OIG offices across the country. Currently, Investigations has field offices in Chicago, El Paso, Los Angeles, McAllen, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Tucson, and Washington, DC (the Washington Field Office and Fraud Detection Office), and smaller, area offices in Atlanta, Boston, Colorado Springs, Dallas, El Centro, Houston, and Seattle. Investigations Headquarters in Washington, DC, consists of the immediate office of the AIG and the following branches: Operations, Investigative Support, and Policy and Administration.
Geographic areas covered by the field offices are indicated on the map below. In addition, the San Francisco office covers Alaska; the San Diego office covers Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa; and the Miami office covers Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
During this reporting period, Investigations received 3,821 complaints. It opened 319 investigations and closed 298. OIG agents made 84 arrests involving 32 Department employees, 44 civilians, 7 Department contract personnel, and 1 grantee. Convictions resulted in 81 individuals receiving sentences and $253,333 in fines, recoveries, and orders of restitution. As a result of OIG investigations, 17 employees, 14 contract employees, and 1 contractor received disciplinary action, including 21 who were terminated. In addition, 30 employees and 3 contract employees resigned either during or at the conclusion of OIG investigations.
Following are some of the cases investigated during this reporting period, grouped by offense category.
INS DOCUMENT FRAUD
In the District of Arizona, an INS immigration inspector assigned to the San Luis, Arizona, port of entry was arrested for producing false INS documents. A joint investigation by the OIG's Tucson Field Office, INS, U.S. Customs Service (Customs Service), and FBI developed evidence that the immigration inspector used his position to create and sell INS Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) documents. Subsequent to his initial arrest, the immigration inspector was charged in the Southern District of California with alien smuggling. The investigation developed evidence that he arrived from Mexico at the Andrade, California, port of entry with a female Mexican national passenger who presented a fraudulent temporary green card. Judicial proceedings continue in Arizona and California.
In the Southern District of Texas, a Mexican national was arrested pursuant to an indictment charging him with fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and documents. A joint investigation by the OIG's McAllen Field Office and U.S. Border Patrol developed evidence that the Mexican national was selling Border Crossing Cards and green cards that he allegedly obtained from an INS immigration inspector. During an undercover operation, the Mexican national sold seven Border Crossing Cards and green cards. A subsequent search warrant executed on his residence resulted in the seizure of approximately 40 additional Border Crossing Cards and green cards, along with other identification documents. The Mexican national pled guilty and was sentenced to three years' incarceration and six months' home confinement.
A former INS supervisory immigration inspector assigned to the Miami International Airport, his wife, and his sister-in-law were arrested and pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and transferring an identification document without lawful authority. A joint investigation by the OIG's Miami Field Office, DEA, and FBI established that the former supervisory immigration inspector, assisted by his wife and sister-in-law, accepted bribes as part of an alien smuggling scheme operating between Colombia and Florida. The supervisory immigration inspector accepted a total of $4,000 during an undercover operation in which he agreed to place an ADIT Stamp in the passport of an illegal alien. As a result of this investigation, the supervisory immigration inspector resigned his position with the INS and was sentenced to ten months' incarceration and three years' supervised release. His wife and sister-in-law were sentenced to 5 years' probation and 10 and 12 months' home confinement, respectively.
The El Paso Field Office investigated a variety of criminal allegations in two BOP contract facilities, the Reeves County Detention Center and Big Spring Correctional Center. Eleven separate investigations were opened on a variety of violations, including bribery, possession of contraband (marijuana, cocaine, and cash), and sexual misconduct. As a result of these investigations, seven BOP correctional officers and five inmates were convicted in U.S. District Court during this reporting period. Moreover, since April 1, 2001, 14 employees at these West Texas contract facilities have been terminated from their positions.
An INS district adjudications officer assigned to the INS Miami District Office pled guilty to charges of bribery pursuant to a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida. An investigation by the OIG's Miami Field Office, assisted by the INS and FBI, disclosed that the INS officer had approached several people applying for U.S. citizenship and offered them passing grades on their citizenship exams in exchange for money. The INS officer was sentenced to five months' incarceration, followed by five months' house arrest and two years' supervised release.
In 1999 a former BOP case manager was arrested following a joint OIG New York Field Office and FBI investigation into allegations that she smuggled cocaine into the U.S. Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. The case manager subsequently pled guilty to one count of bribery and was sentenced to 2 years' probation plus 200 hours of community service. The case manager also agreed to cooperate against the inmates to whom she delivered the drugs, which, after further investigation, led to the arrest and indictment in November and December 2001 of one current and one former inmate on bribery and drug charges. These two individuals subsequently pled guilty to the bribery charges and await sentencing.
In the Northern District of Alabama, a BOP food service employee assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Talladega, Alabama, was arrested and pled guilty to bribery charges. An investigation by the Atlanta Area Office developed evidence that the food service employee solicited money from inmates at the prison camp to allow them to leave the grounds of the prison for liaisons with women. The investigation further revealed that he sold meat products from the prison to relatives of inmates and smuggled a woman into the prison in his private vehicle for a liaison with an inmate. The employee, an 8-year BOP veteran, resigned his position with the BOP following his OIG interview. He was sentenced to two years' probation.
In our September 2000 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on a case in which an INS district adjudications officer assigned to the INS Boston District Office was arrested on charges of bribery. A 15-month investigation by the OIG's Boston Area Office, assisted by the FBI and other federal agencies, led to a criminal complaint alleging that the district adjudications officer demanded and accepted approximately $5,000 in bribes in exchange for granting a naturalization candidate citizenship and removing all references to the candidate's arrest history from his alien file. During this reporting period, the INS employee was sentenced to one year of incarceration and two years' supervised release after he pled guilty to charges of bribery.
ATTEMPTS TO CORRUPT DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES
In the District of Massachusetts, an alien from the Dominican Republic was arrested for bribing a federal agent and distribution of cocaine as a result of a joint investigation by the OIG's Boston Area Office and DEA. The investigation revealed that when the alien was apprehended on immigration violations, he offered the arresting INS special agent $100,000 in exchange for his release. At the direction of the OIG, the cooperating INS special agent accepted $100,000 in cash from the alien, who thereafter revealed times and locations of drug shipments. Approximately 260 kilos of cocaine were seized prior to the alien's arrest. The investigation also resulted in the indictment and arrest of approximately 21 other individuals on drug charges. Judicial proceedings continue.
In the Northern District of Illinois, a Polish national was arrested on charges of bribery. Following his arrival at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on a flight from Poland, the Polish national was processed by an INS immigration inspector who determined that he was ineligible for admission into the United States under a tourist visa because he had overstayed his previous tourist visa and had apparently worked in the United States without a work permit. When advised of this information, the Polish national offered the immigration inspector a $4,000 bribe to let him into the country. The immigration inspector contacted the Chicago Field Office, which responded immediately and recorded the Polish national confirming the cash bribe offer and paying the immigration inspector $1,000. Judicial proceedings continue.
ALIEN AND DRUG SMUGGLING
In the District of Arizona, an INS immigration inspector and a Mexican national were arrested on charges of bribery and attempted importation of a controlled substance. The OIG's Tucson Field Office, in conjunction with the Customs Service and FBI, initiated an investigation after receiving an allegation from a Customs Service inspector that the INS employee had solicited the inspector's participation in his drug-smuggling activity. Pursuant to the Mexican national's arrest and cooperation, an undercover OIG agent drove a vehicle purported to contain drugs through the immigration inspector's lane. The immigration inspector was arrested after accepting $5,000 for allowing the vehicle to enter the United States without inspection. The investigation further revealed that the INS immigration inspector and the Mexican national had been smuggling controlled substances into the United States through the INS employee's inspection lane at the port of entry since 1999. Judicial proceedings continue.
An INS immigration inspector assigned to the Calexico port of entry was arrested and convicted in the Southern District of California on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine, importation of cocaine, aiding and abetting, and disclosure of confidential information. A joint investigation by the OIG's El Centro Area Office, Customs Service, and FBI disclosed that the immigration inspector permitted a vehicle with more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine to enter the United States from Mexico without proper inspection. The arrests of a Calexico police officer and a civilian on importation of cocaine charges revealed the immigration inspector's involvement in the drug-smuggling operation. Sentencing is pending.
A former BOP senior correctional officer assigned to the FCI in Miami, Florida, was convicted at trial in the Southern District of Florida on charges of possessing and importing more than five kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute. A joint investigation by the OIG's Miami Field Office, Customs Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Metro-Dade Police Department, and Key West Police Department developed evidence that the senior correctional officer was involved in a Jamaican narcotics-trafficking ring that imported cocaine into the United States via cruise ships. She was sentenced to ten years' incarceration and five years' supervised release.
A joint investigation by the OIG's Tucson Field Office and the Customs Service resulted in the arrest of a former INS immigration inspector and her Mexican national boyfriend in the District of Arizona on charges of smuggling marijuana into the United States and bribery of a public official. A federal grand jury returned a 16-count indictment alleging that, on several occasions, the immigration inspector and her boyfriend smuggled marijuana in a vehicle through her primary inspection lane when she was an INS employee. In exchange for these acts, the Mexican national paid the immigration inspector $7,500, promised her real estate in Mexico, and set aside $120,000 for their future use. The immigration inspector resigned from the INS during this investigation. Judicial proceedings continue.
An INS immigration inspector, his civilian wife, and a Mexican national were arrested by members of the Public Corruption Task Force (PCTF), of which the OIG's El Paso Field Office is a member. A 3-year investigation by the PCTF culminated in federal grand jury indictments of these three defendants and three other alleged drug traffickers who remain at large. The defendants were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to import a controlled substance, importation of a controlled substance, bribery of a public official, and money laundering. The investigation determined that the immigration inspector was paid $5,000 to $10,000 by the Carrillo-Fuente drug organization for every load of marijuana smuggled into the United States through his inspection lane. The PCTF estimated that the immigration inspector had allowed a total of 164,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States since November 1998. The immigration inspector has been suspended without pay. Judicial proceedings continue.
In our September 2001 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on a joint investigation by the OIG's McAllen Field Office, INS, and FBI that resulted in the arrest of two INS immigration inspectors and two civilian alien smugglers on charges of conspiracy; transporting undocumented aliens; fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents; and bribery. This investigation led to multiple indictments alleging that the INS inspectors and civilian smugglers helped Mexican and Central American nationals enter the United States illegally by selling INS documents for $300 to $500. The majority of aliens were smuggled into the United States through the INS employees' inspection lanes at the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry. During this reporting period, one immigration inspector was sentenced to 34 months' incarceration, fined $20,000, and terminated from the INS; the second was sentenced to 22 months' incarceration and 36 months' supervised release. One civilian pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 months' incarceration and fined $6,000. In addition, a third immigration inspector was arrested and pled guilty to alien smuggling, bribery, and document fraud charges; sentencing is pending. Judicial proceedings continue for the remaining civilian.
A former supervisory deputy U.S. marshal (SDUSM) was arrested pursuant to an indictment in the District of Colorado on charges of false statements and perjury. An investigation by the Colorado Springs Area Office revealed the former SDUSM made willful false statements to the U.S. marshal and subsequently provided perjurious testimony in a court hearing concerning his post-trial relationship with an alternate juror in the Timothy McVeigh case. The OIG investigation revealed that he falsely denied that he had a personal relationship with the juror. The former SDUSM was in charge of the jury security detail for the McVeigh trial. The SDUSM, a 29-year veteran of the USMS, retired from the Department during this investigation. Judicial proceedings continue.
A former U.S. marshal for the District of Montana surrendered and pled guilty to a charge that he made false statements to the OIG. An investigation by the OIG's Seattle Area Office, assisted by the FBI, disclosed that the former U.S. marshal, while serving in that capacity, lied in a sworn statement to the OIG when he stated that he had never purchased illegal drugs. The investigation disclosed that on several occasions in 1997 the former U.S. marshal purchased and distributed cocaine to another individual. The former U.S. marshal was sentenced to one year of incarceration and three years' supervised release.
A former sergeant with the Cedar Grove, West Virginia, Police Department was arrested and pled guilty to charges that he committed wire fraud in connection with a COPS grant. An investigation by the Fraud Detection Office demonstrated that the sergeant, the former acting chief of the Cedar Grove Police Department, had forged the signature of the town's mayor to open a fraudulent bank account in the name of the police department and improperly withdrew $14,461 in COPS grant funds, which he subsequently spent on personal items. Sentencing is pending.
A former BOP inmate was arrested and pled guilty to theft by fraud in Colorado state court. A joint investigation by the OIG's Colorado Springs Area Office and the Denver District Attorney's Office revealed that the former inmate used a BOP credit card number from the airline itinerary he received upon his release from BOP custody to fraudulently obtain airline tickets and other services. He was sentenced to six years' incarceration and ordered to pay $12,476 in restitution.
In the Southern District of Ohio, two USMS contract employees were arrested and pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The contract employees, owners of a garage and body shop, contracted with the USMS to store and maintain seized motor vehicles. An investigation by the OIG's Chicago Field Office and the USMS developed evidence that, between May 2000 and August 2001, the shop owners removed parts from vehicles stored for the government and used the parts for themselves and their business. In addition, they falsely billed the government for maintenance work that was not performed and used $7,750 from an auction of government-seized vehicles to pay their own bills. Sentencing is pending.
Our September 2001 Semiannual Report to Congress reported on a case in which a former Missouri chief of police was indicted and subsequently arrested for theft of money from a federal program and for making false statements to a government agency. An investigation by the Chicago Field Office established that the former police chief falsified COPS Universal Hiring Grant paperwork to claim he hired and paid one additional officer when he in fact used the grant to pay his own salary, including a $6,000 annual raise. During this reporting period, he was sentenced pursuant to his guilty plea to two years' probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $53,190.
A former USMS inspector assigned to the Portland District Office, where he served as the Witness Protection Program administrator, pled guilty to an information filed in the District of Oregon charging him with theft of government property. An investigation by the San Francisco Field Office developed evidence that, between February 1997 and May 2000, the former USMS inspector stole at least $21,321 of USMS funds intended for protected witnesses and their family members. He was sentenced to one year of incarceration and ordered to make full restitution. As part of a plea agreement, he resigned his position with the USMS.
A BOP correctional officer assigned to the FCI in Morgantown, West Virginia, was arrested and convicted on extortion charges. An investigation by the Washington Field Office developed evidence that the correctional officer solicited $30,000 from several inmates at FCI Morgantown in exchange for not restricting their visitation privileges and telephone usage or isolating them in the facility's Special Housing Unit. The investigation further disclosed that he solicited and received National Football League and NASCAR tickets from friends and associates of inmates at FCI Morgantown without making a fair market payment for those items. Sentencing is pending.
An INS district adjudications officer assigned to the INS Los Angeles District Office and a civilian were arrested on California state charges of extortion. The OIG's Los Angeles Field Office and the Bell Gardens Police Department initiated a joint investigation after receiving an allegation that the civilian had attempted to extort $10,000 from an alien with a pending INS application. The civilian was arrested following an undercover operation during which he accepted partial payment from the alien. Judicial proceedings continue for the defendants.
An INS information officer assigned to the INS Newark District Office was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with embezzlement. A joint investigation by the OIG's New York Field Office and the USAO for the District of New Jersey identified 49 immigration cases in which the information officer allegedly stole more than $15,000 in money orders from aliens filing applications with the INS and converted them to his own use. Judicial proceedings continue.
IMPERSONATION OF A FEDERAL OFFICER
In the Southern District of Florida, a former INS immigration inspector previously assigned to the INS New York City District Office was sentenced to 21 months' incarceration and 1 year of supervised release and was ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution pursuant to his plea to charges of impersonating a federal officer. A joint investigation by the OIG's Miami Field Office and the INS developed information that the former immigration officer posed as an INS special agent and fraudulently sold immigration documents. A search warrant executed at the immigration officer's residence revealed more than 1,000 INS documents, including Employment Authorization, Asylum, and Adjustment of Status applications.
A joint investigation by the OIG's New York Field Office and the Bronx District Attorney's Office resulted in the arrest of three civilians on New York state charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, scheming to defraud, and criminal impersonation. The investigation developed evidence that two of the civilians, one a Bronx clergyman, recruited aliens to participate in a scheme to improperly obtain immigration documents. The third civilian allegedly impersonated an INS immigration officer and helped the aliens complete INS applications. To date, the investigation has found that the three codefendants received approximately $260,000 from 60 alien victims. Judicial proceedings continue.
A former INS immigration inspector was arrested in the Eastern District of New York on charges of impersonation. A joint investigation by the OIG's New York Field Office and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) led to a complaint alleging that the former immigration inspector falsely obtained more than $575,000 from his victims by claiming that he could obtain work visas for aliens seeking entry into the United States from China. Once he obtained the money, he broke off contact with the aliens. The former immigration inspector, who was employed by the INS from 1987 to 1994, had been arrested by the OIG in 1993, convicted of extortion, sentenced to one year of incarceration, and terminated from the INS. Judicial proceedings continue.
An investigation by the OIG's Tucson Field Office and the USAO for the District of Nevada resulted in the arrest of a civilian on charges of impersonating a federal officer and mail fraud. The investigation developed evidence that the civilian, while posing as an INS officer, defrauded approximately 100 individuals by claiming that she could assist them with the immigration process. During an OIG interview, the civilian admitted to earning approximately $100,000 through her illegal scheme. Judicial proceedings continue.
A Nicaraguan national pled guilty and was sentenced in the Northern District of California to 13 months' incarceration for impersonating a federal officer. A joint investigation by the OIG's San Francisco Field Office and the San Jose Police Department developed evidence that the Nicaraguan national took at least $25,000 from undocumented aliens while falsely claiming to be an INS official who could provide them with green cards. To further his scheme, the defendant obtained counterfeit INS business cards and claimed he knew an INS judge who could approve and expedite INS applications.
INTRODUCTION OF CONTRABAND
A BOP correctional officer assigned to the FCI in Three Rivers, Texas, was arrested on charges of possession with intent to distribute heroin. A joint investigation by the OIG's McAllen Field Office and the DEA led to a criminal complaint alleging that the correctional officer purchased four ounces of heroin and received $1,500 for delivering the heroin to an inmate at FCI Three Rivers. Subsequently, he pled guilty to an indictment charging him with bribery and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. The correctional officer resigned as a result of this investigation. Sentencing is pending.
The OIG's El Paso Field Office, together with the Oklahoma City Division of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service, conducted an investigation into drug smuggling at the FCI in El Reno, Texas. Investigators uncovered a scheme in which inmates, civilians, and an unidentified BOP correctional officer conspired to introduce drugs into FCI El Reno. Out-of-state members of inmates' families mailed drugs hidden in religious candles to persons in Oklahoma, who repackaged the drugs into smaller quantities and smuggled them into FCI El Reno during visitation or mailed them to inmates. During this reporting period, the investigation resulted in one civilian guilty plea and one inmate sentencing. A third inmate was convicted by a jury.
The OIG's San Francisco Field Office investigated the case of an AUSA responsible for prosecuting drug cases who was romantically involved and living with a convicted drug felon on state parole. After the drug offender had violated conditions of his parole by being arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, the AUSA contacted state parole authorities and attempted to intervene on his behalf, inappropriately identifying herself as a federal prosecutor and creating the impression she was acting as her boyfriend's attorney, without having sought the required approvals from her supervisor. The investigation concluded that her relationship with a convicted drug offender raised a potential conflict of interest with her duties as a federal drug prosecutor. In response to the OIG report, the U.S. Attorney issued a letter of reprimand to the AUSA.
The OIG's Colorado Springs Area Office initiated an administrative investigation into the conduct of an AUSA who made offensive and lewd gestures to a group of her neighbors. The OIG investigation confirmed that the AUSA exposed herself to a group of neighbors, lied to police by denying that she had exposed herself, and did not report the incident to her supervisors, who learned about it when contacted by the police. The OIG concluded that the AUSA's misconduct was egregious and contrary to actions expected of a Department employee.
During this reporting period, Investigations field offices conducted 54 investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by BOP employees against BOP inmates. These investigations resulted in the arrest of seven BOP employees and the conviction and sentencing of nine BOP employees on charges of sexual abuse of a ward. They also led to eight resignations, one termination, and one suspension of BOP employees.
PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
Investigations prepares Procedural Reform Recommendations (PRRs) recommending corrective action by Department components when an investigation identifies a systemic weakness in an internal policy, practice, procedure, or program. Provided below are examples of PRRs sent to components during this reporting period.
The following chart summarizes the workload and accomplishments of Investigations during the 6-month period ending March 31, 2002.
|Source of Allegations|
|Hotline (telephone and mail) |
Total allegations received
|Investigations opened this period |
Investigations closed this period
Investigations in progress as of 3/31/02
|Criminal indictments/informations |
Bribe monies deposited to the Treasury