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Former CBP officer sentenced in corruption case

San Ysidro
Port of Entry

A former CBP officer will serve eight months in a federal prison for allowing his fugitive brother-in-law to sneak into the U.S. at a California border crossing and for defrauding his insurance company.

Former CBP officer Thomas Silva was sentenced to the prison time on Jan. 19 after pleading guilty in October to concealing a person from arrest and wire fraud. Silva was also ordered to forfeit more than $16,000 in illegal proceeds from his criminal activity and pay $8,129.37 in restitution to Farmers Insurance, the victim of his wire fraud scheme.

Silva had previously admitted to concealing a wanted fugitive from arrest while on duty at the San Ysidro port of entry. In particular, Silva admitted allowing the fugitive to enter the United States from Mexico without inspection, despite verifying the fugitive’s status using CBP’s computer systems. Silva further assisted the fugitive, his brother-in-law Julio Cesar Landaverde-Valdez, by purposefully entering inaccurate information related to the fugitive’s car in CBP’s computer system in an effort to help the fugitive elude arrest.

In a separate offense, Silva also admitted in his plea agreement to engaging in a separate scheme to defraud Farmers Insurance of over $7,000 by falsely reporting that his Nissan Titan pickup truck had been stolen from a local San Diego community. Silva admitted, however, that he had taken the truck to Mexico prior to reporting it stolen in furtherance of his fraudulent scheme.

In handing down the judgment, the federal judge told Silva that his conduct was “an abomination” and that he had “brought shame” to the U.S. by carrying out these criminal activities while working as a CBP officer.

U.S. attorney Laura Duffy praised the members of the Border Corruption Task Force, a federal task force composed of law enforcement officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, CBP-Internal Affairs, CBP-Field Operations, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Drug Enforcement Administration for their outstanding work to uncover Silva’s criminal activity. Duffy added that her office had a “zero tolerance” policy for government employees who thought they were above the laws that they were sworn to enforce.

 

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