San Diego

DHS Agent Charged With Lying to FBI During Immigration Fraud Investigation

A former supervisor in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was arraigned in federal court Wednesday on charges of lying to the FBI.

According to the indictment, Johnny Martin, 59, lied to the FBI in 2017 when questioned about his dealings with an acquaintance who allegedly shared information with him between 2010 and 2012. That person is one of three defendants in a separate case involving an alleged immigration fraud scheme.

Prosecutors say while Martin was employed with Homeland Security Investigations in 2015 and 2016 he accessed a confidential law enforcement database more than a dozen times and searched names given to him by the acquaintance.

The indictment says Martin then created new documents containing personally identifiable information and immigration history of the individuals and sent them to the acquaintance through his personal email account.

The acquaintance allegedly used that information to defraud over 150 victims by claiming they could obtain immigration status and stop the deportation process in exchange for money.

According to the indictment in the immigration fraud case, two of the defendants, Hardev Panesar and Rafael Hastie, posed as DHS agents and used the confidential information from the law enforcement database to convince victims they weren’t imposters.

Defense attorney Eugene Iredale spoke about the case with the San Diego Union-Tribune and said his client was providing information to Hastie who was serving as an informant for the agency.

Iredale reported said the information was shared as part of a give-and-take informant relationship. 

Martin, of Chula Vista, was charged with one count of making false statements to a federal agent. He could serve a maximum of five years in prison and pay a $250,000 fine.

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