On September 14, USDOJ announced that Luis Santos of New Jersey pleaded guilty to bribing a State Department employee. Santos admitted to paying $2,381 to a U.S. Consular Adjudicator at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo.
Bergen County, New Jersey, Man Admits Bribing State Department Employee
TRENTON, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, man today admitted giving a bribe to an employee of the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Luis Santos, 37, of Teaneck, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of bribery of a public official.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Santos paid $2,381 to a U.S. Consular Adjudicator in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to favorably handle and review non-immigrant visas, which allowed individuals from the Dominican Republic to apply for entry into the United States.
The bribery charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 18, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S Department of State Diplomatic Security Service with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen D. Stringer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Thomas Ambrosio Esq., Lyndhurst, New Jersey
Based on court filings (PDF), a cooperating witness (“CW”) was employed by the State Department as a U.S Consular Adjudicator in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
2. From on or about September 22, 2017 to on or about March 9, 2018, SANTOS contacted the CW via WhatsApp and solicited the CW to participate in a bribery and fraud scheme, whereby SANTOS would pay money to the CW in exchange for the CW favorably handling and adjudicating fraudulent NIVs.
3. Throughout in or about February 2018, SANTOS sent the CW, via WhatsApp messaging, the names and appointment confirmations for five NIV Applicants, all of whom had interviews scheduled with the U.S. Consulate in Santo Domingo in or about March 2018 ( collectively, the “March Applicants”). SANTOS offered to pay the CW $500 for each fraudulent NIV issued to one of the March Applicants.
4. On or about February 25, 2018, SANTOS and the CW met in Hoboken, New Jersey (the “Hoboken Meeting”). During that meeting, which was consensually recorded by law enforcement, SANTOS confirmed that the March Applicants would pay $1,000 each for their fraudulent NIVs, and that the money would be split three ways, with a portion going to the CW in exchange for the CW favorably reviewing and adjudicating the five NIVs.
5. Law enforcement arranged for the issuance of what appeared to be genuine visas for the March Applicants. Accordingly, when each of the March Applicants appeared for their respective interviews, they were informed that their applications had been approved.
6. On or about March 9, 2018, SANTOS caused a relative in the Dominican Republic to wire $2,380.95 ($2,500 less the transfer service processing fee) to the CW via a money transferring service in exchange for the approval of NIVs for the five March Applicants.