WASHINGTON — A former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employee pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking part in a fraud scheme involving more than $295,000 in government money.
The case is being investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI's Washington Field Office, and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.
Lateisha M. Rollerson, 38, of Bowie, Md., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of conversion of government money. Her sentencing is scheduled for June 7. Under federal guidelines, she faces a likely sentence of 18 to 24 months in prison. As part of her plea agreement, Rollerson agreed to forfeiture of the money that she wrongfully obtained as former assistant to an acting intelligence chief for the agency.
The case remains under investigation. Three other individuals have also pleaded guilty to charges related to the scheme: Ahmed Adil Abdallat, 64, a former ICE supervisory intelligence research specialist, pleaded guilty in October 2011 in the Western District of Texas; William J. Korn, 53, a former ICE intelligence research specialist pleaded guilty in December 2011; and Stephen E. Henderson, 61, a former contractor doing work for ICE, pleaded guilty in January.
According to the government's evidence, with which Rollerson agreed, in or about January 2007, Rollerson met a supervisor in the ICE Office of Intelligence, and thereafter, the two developed a close, personal relationship. In or about May 2008, Rollerson was hired as an intelligence reports writer for a company that did contract work for ICE. Later that year, she was hired by ICE as an intelligence research specialist, first in the chain of command of the ICE supervisor, and later reporting directly to the ICE supervisor. Rollerson's official duty station was in Washington, D.C., and she lived in Virginia, often with the ICE supervisor.
The travel voucher fraud scheme began in or about June 2008, when Stephen Henderson, an ICE contractor who was detailed on temporary duty to Washington, D.C., asked Rollerson to make fraudulent hotel receipts for a travel voucher to pay back a travel advance from the company for which he worked. Rollerson told the ICE supervisor about this request and the ICE supervisor approved. Thereafter, Rollerson made fraudulent receipts on her computer for Henderson for more than two years. The loss to ICE from these fraudulent travel vouchers was approximately $54,387.62. A portion of this amount – approximately $21,799 – was kicked back by Henderson to the ICE supervisor and Rollerson per their direction. Included within these kickbacks was $5,000 that was used to pay for a boat for the ICE supervisor, a payment of $4,299 to Rollerson, and $500 in monthly “rent” payments that Henderson made from October 2008 to October 2010.
After making the initial fraudulent hotel receipts for Henderson, Rollerson also created fraudulent receipts for other ICE employees and contractors, including herself, the ICE supervisor, ICE Supervisory Intelligence Research Specialist Ahmed Adil Abdallat, and others.
Additionally, Rollerson obtained travel authorizations for herself and the ICE supervisor for trips they did not take, and during which neither worked. Rollerson then created fictitious receipts for expenses allegedly incurred during those fictitious trips. This resulted in ICE paying the fraudulent vouchers, as well as paying for work time and scheduled overtime for which neither Rollerson nor the ICE supervisor actually worked.
The loss to ICE from the fraudulent travel receipts that Rollerson submitted for herself was approximately $92,700.54, and the loss for time she did not work, but was paid by ICE, was approximately $85,791.48. The loss to ICE for the fraudulent travel receipts Rollerson created for the ICE supervisor was approximately $50,637.62, and the loss for time he did not work, but was paid by ICE, was approximately $27,848.50.
It was also part of the scheme that between February 2009 and September 2010, Abdallat traveled from El Paso, Texas, to Washington, D.C., more than 10 times. Abdallat did so at the recommendation of the ICE supervisor, and Abdallat submitted fraudulent travel vouchers for expenses that he did not incur, so that he could kick back money to the ICE supervisor. As a result of the fraudulent travel vouchers, ICE reimbursed Abdallat a total of approximately $116,392.84. Abdallat kept some of the money, but kicked back approximately $58,550 to the ICE supervisor, Rollerson and another individual.
Further, between or about November 2008 and January 2009, Rollerson created fraudulent lodging receipts totaling approximately $17,185.65 for another contract employee. The contract employee submitted a fraudulent travel voucher, along with the fraudulent receipts Rollerson created, and then kicked back approximately $15,940.89 of the money he received from this voucher to the ICE supervisor. The ICE supervisor endorsed the check for $15,940.89, and it was then deposited into Rollerson's bank account.
From or about April to October 2010, Rollerson created fraudulent receipts for travel vouchers for the ICE supervisor's son in New York and Florida while he was working for a company that contracted with ICE. She also assisted in double-billing ICE for a corporate apartment in Tampa, Fla., which resulted in a loss of approximately $8,436.09. Rollerson deposited some of the money that resulted from these vouchers into an account to which she had access, and she used some of this money to pay personal bills.
In or about November 2008, Rollerson, the ICE supervisor and ICE enforcement official William Korn rented a house in Alexandria, Va., for a year. Henderson and others lived in the house as well during that time. Korn wrote checks of $2,650 to $10,000 per month to Rollerson, the ICE supervisor or to the landlord for rent on the Alexandria residence. Because Korn did not itemize the negotiated $2,650 rent on his travel vouchers, but claimed the traditional hotel rate for lodging for the period of time, Korn wrongfully obtained approximately $3,000 per month more than that to which he was entitled, for a total of approximately $50,832.49. Korn continued to pay rent on the Alexandria residence even after he returned to Tucson, Ariz.
As a result of the submission of the fraudulent travel advances and vouchers, and time and attendance claims, Rollerson aided and abetted by the ICE supervisor, Henderson, Abdallat, Korn and others, caused losses to ICE of approximately $295,866.