In Los Angeles, California this week, former Immigration Officer Mai Nhu Nguyen was sentenced to 2 ½ years in federal prison for a plea of guilty she made earlier this year to accepting bribes in favor of granting immigration benefits to people who appeared before in her capacity as an Immigration Officer.
Before her scam was uncovered, Ms. Nguyen, was employed by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Santa Ana, California for the previous 8 years. The 48-year-old woman was responsible for adjudicating immigration applications and had the authority to approve or deny benefit to applicants seeking immigration benefits such as lawful permanent residence or United States citizenship.
In her plea of guilty, Officer Nguyen admitted to asking for bribes from applicants in the form of cash, and more surprisingly, in egg rolls!
Applicants in the Santa Ana area who were applying for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent residence, through marriage or otherwise were some of the people who encountered the underhanded and apparently epicurean Nguyen. In one case, she asked for $1000 in cash and in another she asked for hundreds of egg rolls. She claimed that she needed hundreds of egg rolls for an upcoming party. In yet another instance, in order for the applicant to gain an immigration benefit that she would personally grant, she required $2,200 in cash, plus a lunch that included several egg rolls and dessert!
Ms. Nguyen was completely unaware that federal agents were monitoring her every move until the day in June 2013 when she was confronted by these agents at her place of employment, at the Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs and Immigration Service Field Office in Santa Ana, California. When former Officer Nguyen was approached by the federal agents, she instantly dropped the envelope containing $2,200 in cash, attempting to extricate herself from the evidence. However, her mistake was that she continued to cling tightly to the bag containing her gastronomic score of golden deep fried delectable egg rolls!
Ms. Nguyen’s attorney requested that the sentence imposed on Ms. Nguyen should be home detention and community service. The attorney asked for sympathy for his client, since he asserted that Ms. Nguyen is a dedicated mother of five children who rely on her for their well-being. She was described by her attorney as a hardworking mother who did everything she could to provide the support needed to raise her five children. Ms. Nguyen’s attorney explained that she had emigrated from Vietnam where she previously endured a very difficult life in her earlier years in the communist country. The attorney also commented that Ms. Nguyen’s actions were “inexplicable” and asked that a humanitarian option would be to allow her to live out her sentence, confined to her home in addition to performing a prescribed number of hours of community service.
Inexplicable maybe, but have you ever tasted an egg roll fresh out of the fryer?