Antonio Oswaldo Burgos sponsored the woman for entry into the United States from her native El Salvador so that they could get married, according to his plea agreement in federal court.
But when the relationship deteriorated earlier this year, Burgos, 48, hatched a plan — and tried to enlist an ICE agent’s help to get rid of his problem, he now admits.
He pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribing a public official, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon. He followed the ICE agent’s vehicle from Portland to Vancouver, Washington, on May 24, while he and his wife were locked in divorce proceedings, and offered the agent $3,000 to have her and her daughter deported, the release states.
The agent played along with Burgos’ scheme and set up another phone call, and then another meeting with Burgos, according to court records. By the June 6 meeting, Burgos had agreed to increase his offer to $4,000 — $2,000 payable at the meeting, with another $2,000 to follow after the woman and her daughter had been removed from the country, according to his plea agreement.
“Attempting to bribe a federal law enforcement officer is a serious crime and will be met with equally-serious consequences,” Billy J. Williams, U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said in the release. “I commend the ICE officer involved in this case for responding to Burgos’ criminal proposition with the utmost level of professionalism and resolve.”
Neither the ICE agent, who reported the offer to the department’s office of professional responsibility after Burgos’ first offer, nor Burgos’ ex-wife has been identified by authorities.
“We rely upon our officers to perform their duties with integrity,” Brad Bench, special agent in charge for HSI Seattle, said in the Justice Department news release. “Because of the deportation officer’s actions, Burgos is being brought to justice. This case should send a strong message that those who attempt to coerce a public official will be punished.”
Had Burgos gone to trial, he would have faced a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
His sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 6, according to KATU. He will remain in federal prison until then.