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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Former Federal Agent Charged with Lying in Connection with Immigration Fraud Investigation


SAN DIEGO – Johnny Martin, a former supervisor in the Department of Homeland Security, was arraigned in federal court today on an indictment charging him with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his improper transmission of sensitive law enforcement information. The charges against Martin stem from an investigation into a massive immigration fraud scheme involving over 150 victims and millions of dollars in losses.

According to the indictment, FBI agents approached Martin in June 2017 and asked about his dealings with an individual who had shared information with Martin and from 2010 to 2012.  In fact, Martin was well acquainted with this individual. While still employed by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in 2015 and 2016, Martin had improperly searched a confidential law enforcement database on more than a dozen occasions for names provided by this individual. Martin then created new documents containing the confidential information, and used his personal email account to send the documents he created to the individual.

During the June 2017 interview, agents showed Martin an example of the sensitive information that he had personally extracted from a confidential law enforcement database, and had emailed directly to the individual. This document contained the personally identifiable information, immigration history, and criminal history of someone whom the individual had victimized in his immigration fraud scheme, and agents were attempting to determine how the individual had obtained this document. According to the indictment, Martin falsely claimed to agents that he had no idea how the document had been transmitted to the individual, and falsely denied sending the document or any other law enforcement sensitive information to the individual.

Martin’s case is related to a separate immigration fraud case pending against Hardev Panesar, Rafael Hastie, and Gurdev Singh (Case No. 17CR1371-GPC).  According to the indictment in that case, Panesar and Hastie posed as Department of Homeland Security agents and defrauded their victims by claiming that they could obtain immigration status and stop deportation proceedings in exchange for exorbitant fees. According to statements and filings made in court in that case, Panesar and Hastie were able to convince victims they were bona fide federal agents by, in part, presenting them with confidential information obtained from law enforcement databases.

Martin, who is no longer employed by HSI, was released on bond and is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel on July 27, 2018.

DEFENDANT                                   Case Number:   18CR2835-GPC

Johnny MARTIN                                Age: 59               Chula Vista, California

SUMMARY OF CHARGE

Count 1: 18 U.S.C. § 1001, Making a False Statement to a Federal Agent

Maximum Penalties: 5 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years’ supervised release.

AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Customs and Border Protection - Office of Field Operations

Customs and Border Protection - Office of Professional Responsibility

*The charges and allegations contained in an Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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