A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer was convicted Thursday of taking cash and receiving sex in exchange for providing employment authorization documents for illegal aliens.
According to U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman, a federal jury found Arnaldo Echevarria, 39, of Somerset, guilty of making false statements, harboring an undocumented immigrant, and multiple counts of bribery.
In his role as a deportation officer, Echevarria obtained employment authorization documents for illegal aliens in the country in exchange for bribes totaling $75,000. One case involved Echevarria receiving sex in exchange for the documents. The offenses were committed between 2012 and 2014.
Michael Koribanics, Echevarria’s attorney, said he is reviewing the case and it is likely that an appeal will be filed.
In his defense, Echevarria falsely claimed that the workers had been granted temporary protected status, which is given to refugees of certain countries seeking to escape armed conflict, natural disasters or other extraordinary circumstances.
In December 2012, Echevarria opened a hair salon in which he employed his illegal-alien girlfriend, even after assuring ICE officials that there would be no conflict of interest between his business and government duties. He also informed ICE that he would not employ illegal aliens.
Echevarria’s girlfriend and other salon workers never completed employment eligibility paperwork and were paid in cash. He took further steps to conceal his girlfriend’s undocumented status by signing her apartment lease and opening cable and utility accounts in his name.
Echevarria will be sentenced June 19 and could receive up to 15 years in prison for each of the six bribery counts and up to five years for each of the other offenses. He faces possible fines totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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