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Somerset Man Indicted On Multiple Federal Bribery, Immigration Charges

A Somerset man who was a former deportation officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement was indicted Feb. 22 by a federal Grand Jury on multiple bribery and immigration-related charges.

Arnaldo Echevarria, 38, was charged with seven counts of accepting bribes, one count of harboring an undocumented immigrant and one count of making false statements to immigration authorities, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The indictment charges that Echevarria, whose job entailed “identifying, locating, arresting and removing undocumented immigrants from the United States and … supervising certain undocumented immigrants who had not yet been deported,” according to the release, agreed to obtain employment authorization documents for seven illegal aliens from 2012 through 2014.

The authorizations are important for undocumented immigrants facing deportation because they allow them to stay in the country for a year, after which the authorizations could be renewed, according to the release.

In return, according to the indictment, Echevarria received about $78,000 in cash bribes and sex from two of the immigrants. One of the women with whom Echevarria had sex ultimately became pregnant and, despite Echevarria’s demand that she have an abortion, delivered the baby, according to the indictment.

Echevarria continued to have sex with this person in exchange for his help with her employment authorization documents, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges that Echevarria employed his then-girlfriend, an illegal immigrant, to manage a hair salon that he purchased in West Orange. Eehevarria had received permission from ICE to open the business, provided that it did not conflict with his ICE duties and that it did not involve undocumented workers.

According to the indictment, Eehevarria researched the identity of a Puerto Rican woman before allowing his girlfriend to assume that identity to get a Pennsylvania identification card.

Eehevarria further hid his girlfriend’s identity by signing for her apartment lease and by putting cable and electric utilities in his name, the indictment alleges. He also paid the hair salon’s employees in cash and never asked them to fill out employment eligibility paperwork, according to the indictment.

According to the release, the seven bribery counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, or three times the monetary equivalent of the things of value accepted by the defendant. The charges of harboring and making false statements are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss arising from the offense.

Echeveria was originally charged last April. His arraignment date in federal court has yet to be determined.

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