Two Homeland Security officials indicted for falsifying records
By Jared Taylor
MCALLEN, Texas (Reuters) - Two agents with the Department of Homeland Security assigned to root out corruption in other law enforcement agencies have been charged in Texas with faking records, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Eugenio Pedraza served as special agent in charge of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General in McAllen, Texas, where he was responsible for rooting out corruption in other federal agencies that work along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pedraza and an agent who reported to him falsified records from seven investigations into Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents accused of accepting bribes to allow drug shipments and illegal immigrants through international ports of entry between 2009 and 2011, the indictment states.
The indictment alleges Pedraza, 49, covered up "severe lapses" in investigative standards ahead of an internal review of the McAllen office, the Justice Department said in its statement.
Also charged in the case is Special Agent Marco Rodriguez, 40, accused of following Pedraza's orders to falsify records in ongoing investigations. The indictment shows Rodriguez worked on two of seven cases identified in the indictment as containing false information.
Both Rodriguez and Pedraza appeared in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty, according to court documents. Bond was set at $50,000 each. No defense attorneys were listed in court documents for either defendant.
Five other agents under Pedraza were assigned to other cases under scrutiny, but were not named in the indictment.
Pedraza was accused of directing his subordinates to draft and place backdated memos into investigative files showing progress in cases that never occurred, as well as records involving case reviews that were never performed.
Pedraza also is accused of failing to promptly notify the FBI that one of its agents was under investigation.
The Justice Department said Pedraza concocted the alleged scheme to make it appear to investigators reviewing his office that cases were being worked properly.
A third former special agent, Wayne Ball, has already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to falsify records in federal investigations. His sentencing is set for July 31.
The most severe charges carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count.
(Reporting by Jared Taylor; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Sofina Mirza-Reid, Greg McCune and Lisa Shumaker)