A 54-year-old former immigration officer in the United States was convicted on Friday of having taken bribes in exchange for granting temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants. Billy Louis Nelms Sr, who worked as an immigration office within the Santa Ana federal building, was charged with having promised legal permanent status to Cambodian immigrants.
The scheme worked by Nelms demanding $5,000 in cash from undocumented immigrants already living illegally in the United States; in return, Nelms would offer stamped documents granting temporary legal status in the country, a statement from the US attorney’s office claims. Nelms and his wife, 60-year-old Sokhon Nelms, were also found guilty of additional charges of conspiracy and witness tampering.
Sokhon Nelms had been accused of ordering a witness not to testify while in her husband’s presence, according to the statement. A second witness was also tampered with. Billy Louis Nelms was also convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit bribery. He faces a maximum of 95 years in prison, while his wife faces up to 60 years.
The evidence presented at the trial showed that Nelms worked as an immigration officer at the Santa Ana federal building in the Fraud Detection and National Security unit between 2005 and August 2008. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General investigated the case, with assistance from Immigration & Customs Enforcement Homelands Security Investigation Forensic Laboratory and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.