Congressman Calls for Probe Into False Deportation

Rep. Darrell Issa wants to know how a man posed as a U.S. marshal to bypass airport security

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A California congressman wants an investigation into how a Hemet man posed as a U.S. marshal to bypass airport security in San Diego and deport his cousin's wife to the Philippines.

Rep. Darrell Issa says TSA procedures are flawed and sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking for documents related to the incident and to Transportation Security Administration policies.

Police arrested Greg Raymond Denny Jr. of Riverside County last month on suspicion of impersonating an officer and kidnapping Cherriebelle Hibbard.

He has not been charged.

Police said Denny, 37, barged into Hibbard's Hemet home on Jan. 15 wearing a fake badge and a shirt that said "U.S. Marshal." Denny handcuffed the woman at gunpoint and forced her husband to buy her a plane ticket. He then used a fake badge to get through San Diego airport security and put her on a plane to the Philippines, her home country, according to a police report.

"The Transportation Security Administration is aware of and reviewing an incident where an individual allegedly presented falsified law enforcement credentials at San Diego's Lindbergh Field on Jan. 15, 2010," officials said earlier this month.

A supervisor at the airport was given remedial training in the wake of the incident, according to an official with the Department of Homeland Security, who added that federal officials are working with law enforcement to review procedures so that the situation would not be repeated.

Craig Hibbard said he called the U.S. Marshals Service three days after the false deportation and officials there told him Denny wasn't an agent.

Police said they arrested Denny after he came to the station for questioning wearing a fake badge and a replica pistol. Denny claimed he was a federal marshal but later admitted he impersonated a marshal and confirmed the family's account, Lt. Mark Richards said. No motive was released.

Cherriebelle, who is five months pregnant, wed Hibbard three years ago. She canceled her immigration documents and said she wanted to go home after the two fought last year, Craig said. His wife later renewed her green card and was waiting for it to be processed when Denny abducted her, Craig said. Immigration officials in San Bernardino told her she was allowed to stay in the United States in the meantime, he said.

Denny said Craig's father told him Cherriebelle was in the country illegally and the couple was having problems at home, the Press-Enterprise reported. Denny and Craig Hibbard are distant cousins, but Hibbard said they met only twice before.

In a phone interview from Manila, Cherriebelle told the newspaper that she had never met Denny and didn't realize he was related to her husband. She said she was afraid of going to jail when he pounded on the door.

''I'm pregnant and don't want to take the kids away from my husband,'' she said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lori Haley said federal marshals do not carry out deportation orders. Only ICE or FBI agents can make arrests for immigration violations. The defendant then gets a hearing before a deportation order is issued.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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