Public officials surrender in immigration case

An agent with the Department of Homeland Security and a former immigration officer surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday morning after a grand jury Tuesday indicted them and three others who allegedly participated in a long-running immigration fraud scheme that was fueled by official corruption, said the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, California.

The conspiracy was allegedly orchestrated by a Los Angeles attorney who paid bribes as high as $10,000 to officials with several agencies in the Department of Homeland Security to help secure immigration benefits for aliens he was representing.

An 18-count superseding indictment returned Tuesday afternoon outlines a wide-ranging bribery scheme in which attorney Kwang Man Lee, who was previously charged in a criminal complaint and is not named in the indictment issued yesterday, used illegal tactics to procure immigration benefits for clients. Lee paid bribes to public officials to secure admission stamps and lawful permanent residency status for aliens who paid fees ranging from a few hundred dollars to well over $50,000, said the indictment. Lee paid bribes to government officials, with payments ranging from $50 to as much as $10,000 given to an officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the indictment said.

Authorities have identified several dozen aliens who improperly received immigration benefits, but that number is growing as the investigation continues, they said

The four current and former government officials named in Tuesday’s indictment conducted a number of official acts to help Lee’s clients obtain immigration benefits, said the government. For example, the indictment specifically alleges that three added documents to and removed documents from immigration files.

Lee is a former officer with an agency previously known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He became an attorney in 1997 and maintains offices in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles.

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