A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent today admitted guilt for his role in a bribery scheme that illegally funneled confidential Department of Homeland Security records to a Los Angeles immigration lawyer, doctored information in secret databases and sanctioned sham marriages involving foreign nationals.
Inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, James Dominguez changed his original plea from not guilty in front of U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford, a move that will likely win him a reduction in punishment.
Dominguez, a Ventura resident, faces a maximum punishment of five years in prison, a three-year period of supervised probation as well as a $250,000 fine.
The plea deal was a bargain for the special agent, who only admitted to making false statements.
A federal grand jury also accused him of defrauding the U.S. by accepting bribes beginning in 2001 from immigration lawyer Kwang Man "John" Lee, himself a former U.S. immigration official.
Those bribes included expensive gifts, televisions, computers and three, all-paid vacations to Thailand, according to the May 2013 indictment.
Others charged in indictments were:
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--Jesus Figueroa, supervisory officer at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); --Paul Lovingwood, former USCIS officer; --Michael Anders, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer; and --Mirei Hofmann, a Japanese native seeking citizenship.
Dominguez remains free from custody on a $5,000 appearance bond and must return to court in Santa Ana on August 11 for sentencing.