ICE, CBP Officials Indicted In Immigration Fraud Scheme
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An agent with the Department of Homeland Security and a former immigration officer surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday after a grand jury indictment named them, as well as three others, as participants in a long-running immigration fraud scheme.
The conspiracy was allegedly orchestrated by a Los Angeles attorney who paid bribes as high as $10,000 to officials with several agencies in the Department of Homeland Security to help secure immigration benefits for aliens he was representing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
KNX 1070′s Claudia Peschiutta reports an 18-count indictment returned Tuesday outlines a wide-ranging bribery scheme in which attorney Kwang Man “John” Lee allegedly used illegal tactics to procure immigration benefits for clients.
Lee, who was previously charged in a criminal complaint and is not named in the indictment issued Tuesday, allegedly paid bribes to public officials to secure admission stamps and lawful permanent residency status for aliens who paid fees ranging from a few hundred dollars to well over $50,000.
Lee also allegedly paid bribes to government officials, with payments ranging from $50 to as much as $10,000 given to an officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Authorities have identified several dozen aliens who improperly received immigrations benefits, but that number is growing as the investigation continues.
Those named in the indictment filed Tuesday are: USCIS Supervisory Officer Jesus Figueroa, 66, of Tujunga; U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Michael Anders, 53, of Torrance; and Mirei Hofmann, 38, of Los Angeles, a native of Japan, who allegedly paid Lee tens of thousands of dollars to secure a permanent resident card. The additional two officials, USCIS Officer Paul Lovingood, 71, of Newhall, and 46-year-old James Dominguez of Ventura, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), were both arrested Wednesday.
Figueroa and Hofmann were named in an earlier indictment returned by the grand jury about a month ago. Anders and Lee, a 47-year-old resident of Los Angeles, were named in a criminal complaint filed about a month ago.
All four were previously arrested and released on bond. They will be summoned to court for arraignments on the new indictment in the coming weeks.
Dominguez and Lovingood were charged for the first time in Tuesday’s indictment, and both are expected to be arraigned on the indictment on Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court.