Sept. 8, 2004 A former immigration officer and two others were convicted this week of 14 counts of fraud, bribery and conspiracy in a scheme to sell passport stamps to illegal immigrants and then assure them passage to the United States mainland.
Pedro Vega, 34, a former immigration inspector for the federal Homeland Security Department's Bureau of Customs and Border Protection; Ignacia Veras De Los Santos, 29; and Agustin Veras De Los Santos, 27, are facing multiple fines of up to $250,000 and jail time of up to 50 years on the multiple counts.
The three were indicted last October by a federal grand jury.
According to the indictment, Ignacia Veras de los Santos would contact immigrants over the telephone to arrange the sale of the stamps. Vega, in his capacity as a supervisory immigration inspector with the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, would see to it that immigrants with the stamps got through immigration checkpoints in the territory, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The trial, which went on for two-and-a-half weeks, took place in federal district court.
Acting U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Jenkins said Wednesday afternoon the case was important "because of the need to root out public corruption from our island community wherever it exists, including at our federally protected borders."
"The protection of our borders is something about which the public understandably has been extremely concerned," Jenkins went on, "and we will continue to vigorously ensure that those borders are not compromised."
The release did not say when the sentencing would take place.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice.. click here.