Former Immigration Intelligence Chief Jailed

Former Intelligence Director James M. Woosley of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for his role in getting four of his employees to claim over $500 000 in fraudulent pay claims and fraudulent expenses.

In May, Woosley also pleaded guilty to stealing over $188.00 himself through a system of fraud that included fake attendance claims, fake travel vouchers, and other forms of fraud. A federal court in the District of Columbia recently sentenced Woosley. – Stephen E. Henderson, Lateisha M. Rollerson, and Ahmed Adil Abdallat, three of the employees implicated in the scheme, have already plead guilty for their role. They received various jail terms, ranging from three months to over a year. They have also been ordered to pay $466,645 in restitution. The fourth ICE subordinate in the case, William J. Korn, also pleaded guilty. He has not yet been sentenced.

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. slammed Woosley’s actions, saying that the former ICE Intelligence Director took advantage of the government’s trust and cost taxpayer dollars. As head of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations’ intelligence, Woosley was indeed in a position of trust as his division was responsible for gathering, reviewing, and sharing information with various agencies about cases related to criminal activity.

Once Woosley has served his sentence, he faces three years of supervised release. He will also have to pay restitution. According to the department, Woosley is not alone. Many US federal immigration agents have been arrested in recent years for corruption and fraud. According to some reports, 16 US customs and border protection and ICE employees were arrested in 2011 after reviews by the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.

In June, a former ICE employee Jovana Deas was sentenced to 30 months in Arizona after passing on personal information illegally accessed from police databases. The information was given to family members of the agent, who had links with Mexican drug organizations.  Deas was charged with a number of offences, including lying to investigators and obstruction of justice.

The investigations and convictions are disturbing because the officers in these cases are charged with upholding immigration laws and US laws. They are paid tax dollars to do so. When these agents and employees fail to uphold the law, they jeopardize the system through corruption and fraud. It is reassuring that out of the many thousands of employees working at immigration agencies, the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility only found wrongdoing in 16 cases. While this is 16 cases too many, it does suggest that most US customs and border protection and ICE employees are doing their jobs.