What will a pound of weed and $44,000 get you? U.S. citizenship, apparently. Though that immigration special may be over after a grand jury indicted five people, including four immigration officials, for participating in a bribery and immigration fraud scheme.
An 18-count indictment outlined how attorney Kwang Man "John" Lee allegedly bribed immigration officials with cash and gifts to get immigration favors for his clients. Lee's alleged bribes ranged from a few hundred dollars to gifts and cash worth tens of thousands. In return, his clients got admission stamps or lawful permanent residency status.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Lee allegedly said that for a pound of marijuana and $44,000, he could get a client U.S. citizenship.
According to Department of Justice press release, James Dominguez, 46, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, received at least three Thailand vacations; Paul Lovingood, 71, a former United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, received computers and televisions; and Jesus Figueroa, 66, a USCIS supervisory officer, received thousands of dollars in cash.
Mirei Hofmann, 38, who allegedly paid Lee for a permanent residency card, and U.S. Customs was also named in the indictment, along with Border Protection Officer Michael Anders, 53.
Anders and Lee were named in an indictment last month. Six have been indicted so far in the immigration fraud scheme that had been going on for more than a decade.
An investigation revealed that Lee was the middleman, or the point-of-contact, and facilitated the bribery conspiracy between immigrants and government officials.
Lee is a former Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent. He became an attorney in 1997 and was previously charged of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government in a separate criminal complaint.
Authorities have identified several dozen immigrants who improperly received benefits, according to the release. The number is expected to grow as the investigation continues.