A former Department of Homeland Security Inspector General was sentenced to 37 months in prison for obstructing internal investigations, forcing the department to drop cases it would have pursued otherwise, some with national security implications.
Former DHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Eugenio Pedraza, 50, of McAllen, Texas, and three other special agents charged as co-conspirators were found guilty in March of falsifying reports.
While head of the McAllen Field Office from 2009-2012, Pedraza and other agents doctored documents to cover the fact that internal investigations were not being completed on schedule or in line with department standards.
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"The scheme's purpose was to conceal severe lapses in DHS-OIG's investigative standards and policies at the MCA and Pedraza's failure to properly supervise agents and investigations," the Department of Justice said in a release after sentencing.
DOJ noted DHS-OIG investigates criminal activity within DHS, including Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, leading to national security issues when procedures aren't followed.
In one instance, an agent created documents after the fact to cover discrepancies in the investigation of a Border Patrol agent accused of smuggling undocumented immigrants and drugs into the U.S.
The false reports led to the investigation being closed without resolution.
Evidence presented at trial showed Pedraza directed agents to falsify reports in at least four other cases, as well.
"While leading an office responsible for investigating misconduct at other government agencies, Pedraza sought to impede and obstruct the investigation of his own office," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said. "Pedraza's criminal conduct resulted in the premature closing of criminal cases without resolution, potentially endangering our national security and allowing others to escape justice."
Aaron Boyd is an awarding-winning journalist currently serving as editor of Federal Times — a Washington, D.C. institution covering federal workforce and contracting for more than 50 years — and Fifth Domain — a news and information hub focused on cybersecurity and cyberwar from a civilian, military and international perspective.