WASHINGTON — The former acting director of intelligence for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of more than $180,000 in a scheme involving fraudulent travel vouchers, and time and attendance claims.
James M. Woosley, 48, formerly of Tucson, Ariz., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of conversion of government money. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson scheduled sentencing for July 13, 2012. Under federal guidelines, Woosley faces a likely sentence of 18 to 27 months in prison as well as a potential fine. In addition, as part of his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeiture of the money he wrongfully obtained.
Four others earlier pleaded guilty to charges related to the scheme: Ahmed Adil Abdallat, 64, a former ICE supervisory intelligence research specialist, pleaded guilty in October 2011; William J. Korn, 53, a former ICE intelligence research specialist, pleaded guilty in December 2011; Stephen E. Henderson, 61, a former contractor doing work for ICE, pleaded guilty in January 2012; and Lateisha M. Rollerson, 38, a former assistant to Woosley, pleaded guilty in March 2012. Abdallat pleaded guilty in the Western District of Texas, and the others pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia.
All told, the actions of the various defendants cost ICE more than $600,000.
"Today James Woosley became the fifth – and highest-ranking – individual to plead guilty as part of a series of fraud schemes among rogue employees and contractors at ICE," said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., District of Columbia. "He abused his sensitive position of trust to fleece the government by submitting phony paperwork for and taking kickbacks from subordinates who were also on the take. This ongoing investigation demonstrates our dedication to protecting the taxpayer from corrupt government employees and contractors."
"Criminal acts within the Department of Homeland Security represent a threat to our nation and undermine the honest and hard-working employees who strive to maintain the integrity of the department," said U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Inspector General Charles K. Edwards. "OIG takes all allegations of employee wrongdoing very seriously. Those who choose to break the law will be pursued aggressively."
"Today, Mr. Woosley admitted to a scheme in which he spent years defrauding the government," said James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office. "This plea should serve as a reminder to all who serve in positions of public trust – if you use those positions for personal gain, you will be held accountable."
"Today's plea reflects the outstanding law enforcement cooperation in a case that unmasked the illicit acts of a senior ICE official," said Paul E. Layman, deputy division director of ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility. "This case was an egregious breach of the public's trust and is atypical of the integrity displayed by ICE employees on a daily basis. ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility will continue to ensure that the employees of the agency are held to the highest standards of professional conduct. Guarding against illegal or unethical behavior is not an option; it is an obligation we have to the people we serve."
According to the government's evidence, with which Woosley agreed, from in or about May 2008 until in or about January 2011, Woosley participated in fraudulent activity involving travel vouchers, and time and attendance claims. In addition, from June 2008 until in or about February 2011, Woosley was aware of or willfully overlooked fraudulent activity of ICE employees under his supervision or contract employees.
The other employees included Rollerson, who he met in or about 2007, while he was deputy director for ICE's Office of Intelligence. Woosley and Rollerson 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. This placed her first in the chain of command under Woosley, and she later became Woosley's personal assistant. Rollerson's official duty station was in Washington, D.C., and she lived in Virginia, often with Woosley. Rollerson helped Woosley and the other participants with the paperwork to support the fraudulent payments they later received.
Woosley admitted obtaining money in various ways:
- Between approximately May 2008 and January 2011, Woosley submitted or caused to be submitted approximately 13 fraudulent travel vouchers to ICE, at a cost of $50,637. As Woosley's assistant, Rollerson created all but one of the travel vouchers, as well as fraudulent documents to support the claimed expenses. She often accompanied him on the trips.
- Between approximately November 2009 and January 2011, Woosley submitted or caused to be submitted time and attendance claims for his pay for work he was supposed to be doing while he was on travel. Because he was not actually on travel or working, he was not entitled to the payments of approximately $27,230.
- Starting in 2008, Woosley took a share of the fraudulent proceeds obtained by others in a scheme involving travel vouchers. For example, Henderson, an ICE contractor who was detailed on temporary duty to Washington, D.C., kicked back $5,000 to Woosley that was used to purchase a boat. Henderson also lived with Woosley and used some fraudulent proceeds to pay rent. Abdallat wrote checks to Rollerson and others for the benefit of Woosley and Rollerson totaling about $58,550. Korn kicked back about $30,648 to the benefit of Woosley and Rollerson. Finally, an unnamed contract employee gave $15,940 in fraudulent travel voucher funds to Woosley, which Woosley used for a real estate investment.
This case was investigated by the DHS Office of Inspector General, the FBI's Washington Field Office and the ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility.
In announcing today's guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Acting Inspector General Edwards, Assistant Director McJunkin and Office of Professional Responsibility Assistant Director Timothy Moynihan praised the investigative agents from the respective agencies for their hard work in this matter. They also acknowledged the efforts of former Legal Assistant Jared Forney, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Butler and Allison Barlotta, who are handling this prosecution, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Sroka and Emily Scruggs, who are handling the asset forfeiture.