LOS ANGELES– A former immigration services officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who had the power to approve applications for citizenship has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.
Daniel Espejo Amos, 68, of Lakewood, was sentenced late Friday afternoon by United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald.
Amos pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy and one count of being a public official who accepted cash bribes. When he pleaded guilty, Amos admitted that he accepted more than $53,000 in bribes from immigration consultants on behalf of immigrants who were not eligible to become naturalized United States citizens.
“This defendant violated his oath to the United States by accepting more than $53,000 in cash bribes in exchange for helping at least 60 aliens to obtain U.S. citizenship – even though he knew the immigrants did not qualify for this benefit,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant's corruption also undermined our naturalization system and damaged the public's faith in government, warranting the sentence imposed by the court.”
In a plea agreement filed in this case, Amos admitted accepting bribes in exchange for committing official acts, including falsely certifying that immigrants had met requirements for citizenship that include “passing” the English competency and civics portions of the naturalization interview and examination administered by USCIS. In at least one case, the immigrant's English-language skills were so poor that Amos gave him copies of test answers so the immigrant could memorize them prior to his naturalization interview.
The case against Amos is part of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, one of HSI's top enforcement priorities is targeting the criminals and criminal organizations that undermine the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “We will continue to work with our counterparts to investigate those who misuse their positions of authority to manipulate and exploit that system for their own personal financial gain.”
John Roth, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, stated that “The Office of Inspector General is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate all allegations of corruption by DHS employees, ensuring the integrity of DHS programs, personnel, and operations.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elisa Fernandez of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.
USAO – California, Central Updated November 10, 2016
Central District of California DOJ / 16-277 / November 9, 2016