April 1, 2002–September 30, 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 Department components 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, D.C. (the Washington Field Office and Fraud Detection Office), and smaller, area offices in Atlanta, Boston, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Detroit, El Centro, Houston, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Investigations Headquarters in Washington, D.C., consists of the immediate office of the AIG and the following branches: Operations, Special 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 6,132 complaints. It opened 326 investigations and closed 295. OIG agents made 127 arrests involving 45 Department employees, 72 civilians, and 10 Department contract personnel. Convictions resulted in 79 individuals receiving sentences and $33,619 in fines, recoveries, and orders of restitution. As a result of OIG investigations, 28 employees and 14 contract employees received disciplinary action, including 30 who were terminated. In addition, 42 employees and 6 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 Eastern District of Michigan, 13 civilians, including 6 licensed medical doctors and 3 clinical psychologists, were arrested for conspiring to falsify documents and make fraudulent representations to the INS on behalf of over 600 naturalization applicants. A joint investigation by the OIG's Chicago Field Office and the INS revealed that the applicants, who were predominantly from Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, had fraudulently sought to obtain medical disability waivers that would have exempted them from the English language, literacy, and civics testing requirements of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.
- In the Southern District of Florida, five civilian employees of a Miami paralegal company were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit mail, wire, Social Security, and immigration document forgery fraud. An investigation by the OIG's Miami Field Office, Social Security Administration's OIG, and the INS led to a 21-count indictment against the civilians for providing fraudulent political asylum and social security application assistance to aliens not entitled to lawful permanent residence in the United States. The investigation revealed that from April 1999 through April 2001, the company prepared, for a fee of $3,000 each, more than 30 false political asylum "persecution stories" for aliens who had not suffered persecution in their home countries; forged and counterfeited immigration documentation, namely, I-551 ADIT stamps, which authorized and allowed more than 100 aliens to work legally in the United States; and prepared false applications for more than 100 Social Security account numbers or cards.
- Two INS automation clerks, one Mexican national, and one civilian were arrested in the Southern District of California on charges of conspiracy and falsely making INS documents; all but the civilian have pled guilty. An investigation by the San Diego Field Office led to a criminal complaint alleging that the codefendants conspired to make and sell INS Employment Authorization Documents for $4,500 each. A search of three of the defendants' residences resulted in the seizure of INS immigration documents, approximately $13,000, and 400 pounds of marijuana. The OIG estimates that the four men sold approximately 110 fraudulent immigration documents.
- A former personnel security specialist assigned to the FBI's Boston Office was arrested and pled guilty in the District of Massachusetts to making a false statement. An investigation by the Boston Area Office revealed that the personnel security specialist provided an affidavit to OIG agents in which he denied receiving a telephone call from a civilian who had attempted to turn himself in to the FBI after committing several bank robberies. After being disconnected by someone at the FBI, the civilian allegedly went on a multi-state carjacking spree during which he murdered three people. During an OIG polygraph examination, the personnel security specialist initially repeated his denial, but later admitted that he had received the call from the civilian but had inadvertently disconnected him. The personnel security specialist, a 17-year FBI employee, resigned his position as a result of this investigation. Sentencing is pending.
- In the Western District of Louisiana, two deputy U.S. marshals who were pilots for the USMS Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System were arrested on charges of conspiracy to make false statements and conceal the true facts in a federal investigation. A joint investigation by the OIG's Atlanta Area Office, USMS's Office of Internal Affairs, and Department of Transportation led to allegations that a civil aircraft leased to the USMS deviated from its assigned altitude and came dangerously close to an American Airlines plane flying in the opposite direction. In an effort to mislead Federal Aviation Administration inspectors investigating the incident, the two deputy U.S. marshals conspired to make false entries in the aircraft maintenance logbook to indicate that the altitude deviation was due to a mechanical problem.
- A deputy U.S. marshal (DUSM), his brother, and a civilian were arrested on charges of conspiracy, false statements, embezzlement, mail fraud, and witness tampering. An investigation by the New York Field Office developed information that the DUSM, while serving as the chief of the USMS Asset Forfeiture Unit for the District of New Jersey, allegedly disposed of forfeited vehicles and real estate properties in violation of USMS policy by selling them at a reduced price to family members and friends in return for cash kickbacks. The DUSM also arranged for the payment of fraudulent real estate commissions to the civilian in connection with some of the real estate transactions.
- In our March 2002 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported that 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. A Colorado Springs Area Office investigation revealed that the former SDUSM made 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 trial. During this reporting period, the former SDUSM pled guilty and was sentenced to three months' incarceration, three months' home confinement, and two years' supervised release and fined $2,000.
- In the Northern District of Texas, seven Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan nationals were arrested by agents of the Dallas Area Office on charges of bribery of a public official. After one of the Bangladeshi nationals approached a U.S. Border Patrol agent about obtaining permanent residence alien cards at $12,000 apiece for each of his six friends, an undercover OIG agent met with these individuals, obtained their fingerprints and photographs, and accepted INS applications for permanent residence in return for several thousand dollars. Six of the subjects pled guilty. Sentencing is pending.
- A former INS immigration examiner, previously assigned to the INS Chicago District Office, was sentenced in the Northern District of Illinois to 18 months' incarceration pursuant to his guilty plea on charges of bribery. An investigation by the Chicago Field Office revealed that the immigration examiner solicited sexual favors from two men in exchange for approving permanent residency applications.
- A former supervisory special agent assigned to the INS San Francisco District Office was arrested and pled guilty to an information charging him with bribery. An investigation by the San Francisco Field Office found that an immigration attorney paid the former supervisory special agent to place the attorney's clients on the immigration court docket ahead of other aliens. The former supervisory special agent was sentenced in the Northern District of California to 30 months' incarceration and ordered to pay $30,000 restitution.
INTRODUCTION OF CONTRABAND
- A BOP correctional officer assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Edgefield, South Carolina, pled guilty and was sentenced on Georgia state charges to three years' incarceration followed by seven years' supervised release for possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. A joint investigation by the OIG's Atlanta Area Office and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office revealed that the correctional officer received packages containing marijuana intended for FCI Edgefield inmates. The correctional officer admitted to OIG agents that he planned to forward the marijuana to an inmate at FCI Edgefield.
- A BOP correctional officer assigned to the FCI in Fort Dix, New Jersey, was arrested on charges of providing contraband in prison and bribery. An investigation by the New York Field Office developed evidence that the correctional officer was introducing contraband, including marijuana, into FCI Fort Dix for an inmate. On two separate occasions, the correctional officer met with an OIG undercover agent and received marijuana, food, workout supplements, and more than $1,500 as payment for introducing the contraband into FCI Fort Dix and providing the items to the inmate. The correctional officer resigned her position.
- A BOP correctional officer assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary (USP) in Pollock, Louisiana, was arrested and pled guilty to charges of introducing contraband into a federal prison. An investigation by the OIG's Atlanta Area Office, assisted by the FBI and state and local law enforcement agencies, developed evidence that the correctional officer was introducing marijuana into USP Pollock for an inmate. During an undercover operation, the correctional officer met with an OIG undercover agent and took possession of one pound of marijuana and $1,000 as payment for providing it to an inmate. He was sentenced to six months' incarceration and two years' supervised release and fined $2,500.
- A former BOP correctional officer assigned to the Low Security Correctional Institution (LSCI) in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 27 months' incarceration and 3 years' supervised release. Multiple investigations by the OIG's New York Field Office, FBI, and BOP revealed a scheme in which inmates in LSCI Allenwood conspired with civilians and a former inmate to bribe correctional officers in exchange for smuggling contraband into and out of the facility.
- In our March 2002 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on a joint investigation by the OIG's McAllen Field Office and DEA in which a BOP correctional officer assigned to the FCI in Three Rivers, Texas, was indicted and pled guilty to charges of bribery and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. During an undercover operation, the BOP correctional officer met with an undercover agent to purchase four ounces of heroin and received $1,500 for delivering the heroin to an inmate at FCI Three Rivers. During this reporting period, the correctional officer was sentenced to five months' incarceration and three years' supervised release.
- In the Eastern District of Texas, a state penitentiary inmate was indicted on five counts of mail fraud for attempting to illegally obtain compensation from the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (Fund). The inmate falsely claimed that he and two others had been severely injured in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks when, in fact, all three were in custody in Beaumont, Texas, on September 11, 2001. This was the first indictment for attempted fraud involving the Fund. This investigation was conducted by the OIG's Fraud Detection Office.
- A Jamaican national was arrested at Miami International Airport as he disembarked from a flight after being deported from Panama. An investigation by the OIG's Fraud Detection Office led to the Jamaican national's indictment for false claims and mail fraud in connection with his claim to the September 11 Fund. In his application to the Fund, he said that his father perished during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. No such person was killed or injured during the attacks.
- On September 16, 2002, OJP sent a letter to the City of Portland, Oregon, demanding repayment in the amount of $114,514 for the misuse of funds received between 1996 and 1998 under an OJP Local Law Enforcement Block Grant. A joint investigation by the OIG's Seattle Area Office and the Portland Police Bureau disclosed that over 25 police officers received overtime pay from the Block Grant on 100 or more occasions for work they did not perform. Both the USAO and the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office declined criminal prosecution.
- A former INS deputy assistant district director for adjudications was arrested and convicted of receiving supplemental salary after a 2-week jury trial in the Northern District of California. An investigation by the San Francisco Field Office revealed that the former INS employee solicited money from several aliens and their family members for nonexistent or unnecessary fees and deposited the money into his personal bank accounts. The former INS deputy assistant district director for adjudications, previously assigned to the INS San Francisco District Office, retired during the investigation.
ALIEN AND DRUG SMUGGLING
- An INS immigration inspector, his wife, and mother-in-law were arrested in the Western District of Texas on charges of importation of controlled substances and conspiracy to import approximately 50 pounds of cocaine. In addition, two civilians were arrested on charges of bribery of a public official. A joint investigation by the OIG's El Paso Field Office and the U.S. Customs Service determined that the defendants conspired to facilitate the passage of narcotics and, in the civilians' cases, illegal immigrants, through the immigration inspector's inspection lane at the Eagle Pass port of entry. The immigration inspector also admitted to involvement in smuggling an additional 583 pounds of marijuana and cocaine and accepting more than $40,000 in bribes to permit at least 20 vehicles containing narcotics into the country during a 13-month period. In addition, the immigration inspector admitted to taking more than $40,000 in additional bribes from the civilians to issue unauthorized immigration documents to more than 160 undocumented aliens.
- A former INS immigration inspector assigned to the INS's pre-flight inspection station in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, pled guilty and was sentenced in British Columbia to 18 months' incarceration for possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. A joint investigation by the OIG's Seattle Area Office and the North Vancouver, British Columbia, Police Department disclosed that the former immigration inspector was selling several illegal drugs. A search warrant executed at his residence resulted in the seizure of drugs and an INS ballistic vest that he had reported as being stolen. Additional charges against the former immigration inspector are pending in the Western District of Washington.
- In our March 2002 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported that an INS immigration inspector assigned to the Calexico port of entry was arrested and convicted 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. During this reporting period, the immigration inspector was sentenced to 135 months' incarceration followed by 5 years' supervised release.
- In our March 2002 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on a joint investigation by the OIG's Tucson Field Office and the Customs Service that resulted in the arrest of a former INS immigration inspector and her Mexican national boyfriend on charges of drug smuggling and bribery of a public official. The investigation established that the immigration inspector allowed her boyfriend to smuggle marijuana through her primary inspection lane when she was an INS employee in exchange for $7,500 and real estate in Mexico. During this reporting period, the former immigration inspector was sentenced to two years' incarceration and three years' supervised release. Her boyfriend was sentenced to three years' incarceration and four years' supervised release.
- In our March 2002 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported that 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 El Paso Field Office is a member, on charges of conspiracy to import a controlled substance, importation of a controlled substance, bribery of a public official, and money laundering; three other indicted drug traffickers remain at large. The investigation determined that the immigration inspector was paid $5,000 to $10,000 for every load of marijuana smuggled into the United States through his inspection lane at the Bridge of Americas port of entry. The PCTF estimated that the immigration inspector permitted a total of 164,000 to 500,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States between November 1998 and December 2001. During this reporting period, the former immigration inspector was sentenced to 20 years' incarceration and 5 years' supervised release for money laundering and conspiring to import controlled substances. He also was ordered to forfeit $3 million and his $275,000 home. The Mexican national, his brother-in-law, was sentenced to 14 years' incarceration and 5 years' supervised release for bribery of a public official and conspiring and importing a controlled substance.
- The executive assistant to the warden and the unit manager of the USP in Florence, Colorado, were arrested in the District of Colorado on charges of sexual abuse of a ward. An investigation by the Colorado Springs Area Office found that the executive assistant and the unit manager were involved in sexual relationships with multiple inmates and that the executive assistant had used her position to shield the women's activities from discovery. To date, the unit manager has pled guilty and the executive assistant awaits trial. Both women resigned their positions with the BOP following OIG interviews, during which they admitted to having sexual relationships with USP Florence inmates.
- A former BOP nurse, previously assigned to the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, was arrested and subsequently convicted by a federal jury in the District of Minnesota of sexual contact with a ward. An investigation by the Chicago Field Office led to an indictment charging that the BOP nurse had engaged in a sexual relationship with a male inmate under her custodial supervision. She resigned from her position with the BOP as a result of the investigation. Sentencing is pending.
- In our March 2001 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported that a Border Patrol agent assigned to the Nogales Border Patrol station was arrested on Arizona state charges of kidnapping, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. An investigation conducted by the OIG's Tucson Field Office and the Nogales Police Department led to a criminal complaint alleging that the Border Patrol agent had sexually abused one of three female aliens he was transporting for processing following their apprehension for illegally being in the United States. Following his conviction in federal court, the Border Patrol agent was sentenced concurrently to seven years' incarceration for sexual assault and five years' for kidnapping.
- A former district adjudications officer at the INS Los Angeles District was arrested and pled guilty to California state charges of identity theft, grand theft, forgery, and possession of forged driver's licenses and was sentenced to five years' incarceration and five years' supervised release and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution. A joint investigation by the OIG's Los Angeles Field Office and the Signal Hill, California, Police Department revealed that the former INS district adjudications officer possessed several copies of altered INS identification documents, an INS "A" file, and other INS immigration-related documents. Although the former INS employee falsely claimed to be a current INS employee on a leave of absence, she had been terminated by the INS in October 2001 subsequent to a bribery investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Field Office.
- Three INS deportation officers assigned to the INS San Antonio District were arrested on charges of deprivation of rights under color of law as a result of a 20-month investigation by the Houston Area Office into the death of a Mexican national resident alien. During a March 2001 INS arrest of illegal aliens residing in Bryan, Texas, the resident alien suffered a broken neck and a severed spinal cord allegedly due to mistreatment by the officers. He died one year later as a result of these injuries. The three deportation officers are charged separately with deliberate indifference to the resident alien's serious medical needs.
- A Border Patrol agent assigned to the San Clemente Border Patrol station pled guilty to charges of civil rights violations under color of law. An investigation by the San Diego Field Office developed evidence that the Border Patrol agent obtained custody of three undocumented immigrants from a local sheriff's department in August 2000. While transporting the aliens to the Border Patrol station, the Border Patrol agent pulled off the road, took the aliens out of the vehicle, and physically assaulted at least one of the handcuffed aliens. Another Border Patrol agent assisting with the transport witnessed the incident. The Border Patrol agent's plea agreement requires that he resign from the Border Patrol and not seek employment with any law enforcement agency.
- A Border Patrol agent assigned to the Eagle Pass, Texas, Border Patrol station was arrested pursuant to an indictment on charges of deprivation of rights under color of law. An investigation by the El Paso Field Office determined that the Border Patrol agent assaulted several Mexican nationals who had attempted to illegally cross the border. The Civil Rights Division and USAO for the Western District of Texas concluded that the Border Patrol agent's action warranted prosecution on at least one of the incidents.
- An INS political asylum officer assigned to the INS's Anaheim, California, office was arrested in the Central District of California on charges of bribery and deprivation of rights under color of law. An investigation by the Los Angeles Field Office revealed that the political asylum officer was soliciting Chinese female asylum applicants for sexual favors and money in exchange for granting them asylum.
- A federal grand jury indicted a Border Patrol agent assigned to the Tucson Border Patrol station on charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and tampering with a witness. An investigation by the Tucson Field Office developed evidence that the Border Patrol agent physically assaulted an illegal alien who had been apprehended and detained by another Border Patrol agent. After the assault, the Border Patrol agent threatened the illegal alien with prosecution if he did not say that his injuries resulted from a fall.
- In our March 2002 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported that 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. During this reporting period, the correctional officer was sentenced to 41 months' incarceration and 1 year of supervised release.
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 Miami Field Office recently completed an investigation involving an INS deportation officer (DO) who met with a former alien detainee outside the scope of his duties as a DO. The DO had been acquainted with the alien while the alien was detained at the Krome Service Processing Center (KSPC). During his confinement, the alien provided credible information to the DO about drugs in the KSPC. After being released, the alien contacted the DO and requested a meeting in order to provide information. The DO met with the alien, who provided an envelope containing a passport and asked the DO to run inquiries on the name in the passport. Although the DO refused, the alien told the DO that there was additional information in the envelope that the DO should review later. When the DO opened the envelope, he found $1,000 in cash. He immediately reported the bribe attempt to his supervisor. A review of the INS Administrative Manual indicates that the issue of INS employees interacting with alien detainees after they have been released from custody is not addressed. The OIG recommended that the INS amend its manual to address INS employees' interactions with detainees that have been released and to provide clarification regarding contact or interaction with other agency informants.
- The Washington Field Office conducted an investigation into allegations that the USMS denied medical treatment to a prisoner in its custody for approximately 10 days after he had sustained serious injuries to his face and head after being assaulted by another prisoner. Although the OIG investigation did not uncover any evidence that medical treatment was willfully denied, it did find that USMS policy for handling requests for medical treatment and USMS employees' understanding of their obligation to provide such treatment is unclear and inadequate. The OIG recommended the development of specific regulations on the action required when a prisoner in USMS custody makes a request for medical treatment and how such a request and subsequent action should be documented. The USMS is in the process of revising its policy governing prisoner health care to address the OIG's recommendations.
- The Los Angeles Field Office recently conducted an investigation into allegations that several farm equipment items were missing from the farm facility at the USP Lompac. The investigation established that many of the items reported missing were on neighboring land; however, two pieces of equipment were ultimately located on a former BOP employee's personal ranch. The investigation found that these items had not been entered or tracked as part of BOP inventory because of the lack of a Vehicle Identification Number, or assignment of specific monetary value, or the item was dropped from inventory because value declined below an established baseline. No criminal or civil action was feasible in this case because of lack of evidence documenting BOP ownership of the equipment. Although the BOP has procedures to inventory equipment and track its disposal, those procedures were not followed in this case. The OIG recommended revision to current policies to require the BOP to enter in inventory all useful equipment, regardless of age, value, or source of acquisition; to track equipment until its disposal; and to create and retain records of the disposal.
The following chart summarizes the workload and accomplishments of Investigations during the 6-month period ending September 30, 2002.
|Source of Allegations|
|Hotline (telephone and mail) |
Total allegations received
|Investigations opened this period |
Investigations closed this period
Investigations in progress as of 9/30/02
|Criminal indictments/informations |
Bribe monies deposited to the Treasury