In theory, U.S. immigration officials only allow foreigners with good
morals to become citizens, but in 1989 Mexican Bernard Gari beat the
In the months leading up to his citizenship, Gari sexually
molested two Orange County kids under the age of 14 and kept that ugly
fact a secret from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
It took nearly two decades, but justice finally found Gari in April 2010.
That's when federal immigration officials discovered that the Garden
Grove man had confessed to the 1989 sex crimes in a 1993 plea deal that
detailed 10 acts of molestation and sent him to prison for six years.
With federal agents closing in on his ass, Gari filed an August 2010
motion in Orange County Superior Court to withdraw his 17-year-old
guilty plea on the grounds that he suddenly realized he'd mistakenly
admitted to committing sex crimes prior to gaining his citizenship. If
he'd known his admissions would jeopardize his immigration status, he
wouldn't have pleaded guilty, he argued in hindsight.
Superior Court Judge Brett G. London granted Gari's motion, but District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
refused to concede defeat. Rackauckas got a state appellate court panel
to reverse London's ruling. No quitter, Gari appealed to the California Supreme Court. In December, the high court announced it wasn't interested.
The case ultimately landed in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney,
who didn't allow the matter to reach a trial. This month, Carney
determined that the record of Gari's sex crimes and deceit is clear. He gave
federal immigration officials a summary judgement decision.
Upshot: Gari has lost his citizenship.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.