SANTA ANA, Calif. – A former officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Providers (USCIS) has been discovered responsible of accepting bribes in a long-running immigration fraud scheme, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Workplace of Skilled Duty (OPR) and ICE’s Homeland Safety Investigations (HSI).
Jesus Figueroa, 69, of Tujunga, was discovered responsible Thursday of 1 depend of conspiracy to commit bribery and to impede the lawful perform of presidency immigration companies. Figueroa was additionally convicted of 4 counts of accepting bribes and three counts of fraudulently misusing his official USCIS seal.
United States District Decide Andrew Guilford, who presided over a six-day trial, is scheduled to condemn Figueroa June 6, at which era the defendant will face a statutory most penalty of 80 years in federal jail.
The proof at trial confirmed that Figueroa accepted bribes from a Los Angeles lawyer in alternate for approving immigration purposes no matter whether or not the immigrants making use of have been entitled to immigration advantages, together with lawful everlasting residence standing. The lawyer who paid the bribes – Kwang Man “John” Lee, 50, of Rancho Cucamonga – pleaded responsible in January 2015 to 3 counts of bribing a public official and is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Figueroa and Lee had identified one another for years, and each labored collectively on the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the place they oversaw the issuance of immigration advantages, together with “inexperienced playing cards” and citizenship. In 1999, Lee left the INS and have become a lawyer in personal apply. Figueroa stayed with the INS, a part of which turned USCIS with the creation of the Division of Homeland Safety. Figueroa continued to evaluate purposes for immigration advantages.
In accordance with courtroom paperwork, “Lee’s legislation apply turned primarily immigration associated and he started participating in fraud and bribery to be able to receive immigration advantages for his purchasers. The general public officers Lee would bribe to be able to receive immigration advantages for his purchasers have been primarily the people he knew whereas working for INS,” together with Figueroa.
Lee and recruiters working for him would inform international nationwide purchasers that Lee might receive immigration advantages, resembling authorized everlasting resident standing, in alternate for charges that ran as excessive as $50,000. In some circumstances, Lee and his recruiters organized sham marriages for aliens to make it seem that they have been entitled to immigration advantages. Figueroa, when reviewing petitions from aliens in sham marriages, knew the marriages have been bogus and, as a result of he had taken bribes from Lee, permitted the purposes for authorized everlasting residence.
“The defendant betrayed his oath to the USA by promoting his companies and permitting aliens to improperly reside in the USA,” mentioned U.S. Lawyer Eileen M. Decker. “As this case demonstrates, public officers who’re extra involved with illicit revenue than upholding the legislation will lose their positions and face prosecution.”
Figueroa was discovered responsible of conspiracy, which carries a statutory most penalty of 5 years in federal jail; 4 counts of bribery, every one in every of which carries a statutory most penalty of 15 years in jail; and three counts of fraudulently misusing his official USCIS seal, every one in every of which carries a most statutory sentence of 5 years.
ICE OPR and HSI acquired substantial help with the investigation from U.S. Customs and Border Safety, Workplace of Inner Affairs; the Division of Homeland Safety, Workplace of Inspector Common; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Providers, Workplace of Safety and Integrity; and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division.