ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida couple was arrested Thursday for attempting to bribe a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent.
The case was investigated by ICE HSI and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.
Marin Mutafov Christo, 70, and Anu Christo, 39, both Orlando residents, each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison for bribery of a public official.
"ICE takes all bribery attempts of our employees very seriously," said David D'Amato, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility overseeing Orlando. "All allegations of bribery are investigated thoroughly and swift enforcement action is taken when appropriate."
"The agent in this case did the exactly the right thing and immediately reported the bribery to the Office of Professional Responsibility," said ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge in Tampa Susan McCormick. "The agent then continued working in an undercover capacity to assist with the investigation."
According to the criminal complaint, Anu Christo is an alien from Estonia, who was ordered by an immigration judge to voluntarily depart the United States in November. In August, Marin Mutafov Christo contacted an agent with HSI about his wife's immigration situation. After some telephone calls and meetings, Marin and Anu Christo offered to pay the HSI agent $10,000 in cash to assist Anu Christo in staying in the United States after her November scheduled departure date.
Acting in an undercover capacity, the ICE HSI agent received a $5,000 cash payment from Marin Christo on Sept. 20. Both Marin and Anu made a second cash payment of $5,000 to the undercover agent on Oct. 26. Afterwards, they were arrested.