By Tim Gaynor
(Reuters) - A former U.S. federal immigration intelligence director who lured four subordinates into fraudulently claiming more than $500,000 in fake expense and pay claims was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Friday, authorities said.
James M. Woosley, 48, the former acting director of the intelligence office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, was sentenced in federal court in the District of Columbia, ICE said in a statement.
Woosley pleaded guilty in May to stealing more than $188,000 through a scheme involving fraudulent travel vouchers, and false time and attendance claims.
Three of his subordinates - Stephen E. Henderson, 62; Lateisha M. Rollerson, 38; and Ahmed Adil Abdallat, 64 - had previously pleaded guilty in the case.
They were sentenced to jail terms of between three months and a year and day, and were ordered to pay restitution totaling $466,645. A fourth defendant, William J. Korn, 53, also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said Woosley "took advantage of the trust he was given by the United States government to carry out a scheme that cost American taxpayers more than a half million dollars."
"He personally obtained more than $188,000 while also bringing others into the fraud. Now he and four others have been convicted of their crimes, and he will be spending time in prison for this betrayal of his office," he said in a statement.
Woosley led the ICE Homeland Security Investigations' intelligence division, which collects, analyzes and shares intelligence with other law enforcement agencies on crimes ranging from drug and illegal immigrant smuggling to child sex tourism.
After completing his time in prison, Woosley will be placed on three years of supervised release. In addition, as part of his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeiture and restitution of the money he obtained by fraud.
He is among scores of U.S. federal immigration agents and customs inspectors working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who have been convicted of corruption in recent years.
Between October 2004 and May of this year, 138 U.S. customs and border protection officers and border patrol agents were arrested or indicted for corruption, including drug and illegal immigrant smuggling, money laundering and conspiracy, according to the department.
Investigations by ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility last year resulted in the arrest of 16 ICE and U.S. customs and border protection employees. It was not clear how many of those cases have resulted in a conviction.
In another case late last month, a former ICE agent in Arizona was sentenced to 30 months in prison for accessing police databases and passing on sensitive information to family members with ties to Mexican drug cartels.
Jovana Deas was accused of illegally obtaining and disseminating classified government documents while working as an ICE special agent in Nogales, Arizona, a city on the border with Mexico. She was also charged with obstruction and lying to investigators.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham)