CHICAGO - A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervisor at Midway International Airport will be arraigned this week on federal charges alleging that he received $52,000 in bribes to allow foreign restaurant workers and their spouses to remain in the United States. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
William Mann, 50, a former CBP supervising officer at Midway, allegedly received about $700 to $2,000 per person from more than 30 restaurant employees and their spouses. Mann allegedly altered a law enforcement database and provided false immigration and travel documents showing that the restaurant workers and their spouses had just entered the United States and were eligible to legally stay in the country for another year. Rogerio Charu, part owner and general manager of the former restaurants in Chicago, Downers Grove and Schaumburg, was also charged with Mann.
Mann, of Munster, Ind., is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez of the Northern District of Illinois. Mann was charged with conspiracy, bribery, and immigration fraud in a seven-count indictment that was unsealed last week and returned by a federal grand jury on May 20. Charu, whose last known residence was in Downers Grove, is currently believed to be in Brazil. He was charged with conspiracy, and aiding and abetting the remaining six counts against Mann.
The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $52,000 from Mann, representing the alleged bribes he received from the restaurant employees.
The indictment alleges that when Mann accepted the money in the spring of 2005, the employees and their spouses either already were required to leave the U.S. or soon would be required to do so.
"Public employees serve the public and not themselves. This is especially true for those law enforcement officers who are responsible for our customs and border security. We will investigate and prosecute any persons shown to have compromised that security, whether by paying or taking bribes," said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
"The Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, will relentlessly pursue allegations of criminal misconduct concerning DHS employees to protect the integrity of the department and to ensure that the public trust is maintained," said Armando Lopez, special agent in charge of the DHS Office of Inspector General in Chicago.
Terence S. Opiola, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility, Northeast, said, "A government official who accepts cash to issue immigration documents represents a serious breach of authority. We are pleased that, with our partners at DHS-OIG, we have exposed this alleged violation of the public trust."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Grohman, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting this case.
If convicted, Mann and Charu each face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count. The three counts of bribery and aiding and abetting bribery each carry up to15 years in prison. Each of the three counts of immigration fraud and aiding and abetting immigration fraud carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. All seven counts carry a $250,000 maximum fine.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.