LOS ANGELES – A former officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), who had the authority to approve applications for citizenship, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison Friday for taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.
Daniel Espejo Amos, 68, of Lakewood, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald. The charges against Amos stemmed from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General, and the FBI.
Amos pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy and one count of accepting cash bribes. When he pleaded guilty, Amos admitted he accepted more than $53,000 in bribes from immigration consultants on behalf of foreign nationals who were not eligible to become United States citizens.
“This defendant violated his oath to the United States by accepting more than $53,000 in cash bribes in exchange for helping at least 60 aliens to obtain U.S. citizenship – even though he knew the immigrants did not qualify for this benefit,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant’s corruption also undermined our naturalization system and damaged the public’s faith in government, warranting the sentence imposed by the court.”
In a plea agreement filed in this case, Amos admitted accepting bribes in exchange for committing official acts, including falsely certifying that immigrants had met requirements for citizenship that include “passing” the English competency and civics portions of the naturalization interview and examination administered by USCIS. In at least one case, the immigrant’s English language skills were so poor Amos gave him copies of test answers so the immigrant could memorize them prior to his naturalization interview.
“The Office of Inspector General is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate all allegations of corruption by DHS employees, ensuring the integrity of DHS programs, personnel, and operations,” said DHS Inspector General John Roth.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa Fernandez of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.