SANTA ANA, California – An immigration service officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was indicted today on federal charges that allege she took thousands of dollars in bribes from three immigrants who were seeking either citizenship or lawful permanent resident status in the United States.
Mai Nhu Nguyen, 47, of Irvine, was charged in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury. The indictment specifically alleges three counts of solicitation and receipt of a bribe by a public official.
Nguyen was arrested on June 6 after allegedly accepting a $2,200 bribe from an immigrant who was seeking United States citizenship.
In addition to the bribe earlier this month, the indictment alleges that Nguyen solicited and took bribes from immigrants in 2011. In one case, Nguyen is accused of taking $1,000 from an immigrant seeking a “Green Card” and 200 egg rolls from an immigrant seeking citizenship.
Nguyen, who has worked at USCIS’s Santa Ana office for approximately eight years, is an immigration service officer with the power to approve or deny applications for immigration benefits that are submitted by immigrants.
Nguyen is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on July 1 in United States District Court in Santa Ana.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Each count of bribery by a public official carries a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
After being arrested, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Nguyen, who made her initial court appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge on June 7. Nguyen was released on a $20,000 bond and was ordered to appear for the arraignment next month.
The case against Nguyen is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.
Release No. 13-087