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07/12/2011

Illegal alien sentenced for impersonating ICE agent, decorated service member

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An illegal alien from Vietnam was sentenced to four years in federal prison Tuesday for impersonating a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent and a decorated Marine. The sentence stems from an investigation conducted by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

De Hieu Tran, 43, a native of Vietnam, was convicted in February for pretending to be an ICE agent and for wearing the ribbon of the Purple Heart medal without authorization.

"Mr. Tran's behavior in this case was not only criminal it was reprehensible," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit. “Tran preyed on the vulnerable, damaged the immigrant community's view of law enforcement through his impersonation and dishonored the brave men and women of our military during a time of war. Our special agents, the Kentwood police officers and the prosecution team did a tremendous job in bringing Tran to justice."

According to the investigation, between February and August 2010, Tran traveled regularly in and around Grand Rapids, posing alternately as an ICE agent and as a U.S. Marine officer, as part of a scheme to obtain large cash payments from members of the Vietnamese immigrant community in exchange for immigration benefits he claimed he could obtain for them.

In his guise as a Marine, Tran not only wore the Marine uniform, but also wore numerous military decorations that included the ribbon for the Purple Heart medal, a distinction authorized by Congress for service members who are wounded or killed in combat.

While impersonating an ICE agent, Tran wore fraudulent ICE credentials and carried handcuffs, threatening to arrest and deport any alien who did pay not fees he demanded. According to testimony, Tran sought as much as $20,000 from aliens he promised to assist, and obtained in excess of $20,000 dollars from numerous different aliens.

Tran will be deported following his sentence.