A Somerset man, who took cash bribes and sex in exchange for providing employment authorization documents and hiding an undocumented immigrant at his hair salon, was convicted by a federal jury Thursday, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Arnaldo Echevarria, 39, a former deportation officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was convicted of Counts 1-6 and Counts 8 and 9 of an indictment charging him with seven counts of accepting bribes, one count of harboring an undocumented immigrant and one count of making false statements to immigration authorities.
He was acquitted on Count 7, one of the bribery counts.
Echevarria was convicted following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court.
The jury deliberated for one day before returning the guilty verdict.
Between 2012 and 2014, Echevarria, who enforced immigration and customs laws, demanded and received about $75,000 in cash bribes, and demanded and received sex from one undocumented immigrant in exchange for employment authorization documents, according to statements made in court and evidence presented at trial.
“In order to conceal them from immigration authorities, Echevarria falsely stated that they had been granted temporary protected status, which allows nationals from certain countries experiencing environmental disaster, ongoing armed conflict, or other extraordinary conditions to lawfully remain in the United States,” according to the Fishman.
“None of the individuals who bribed Echevarria had actually applied for, or received, temporary protected status.”
In December 2012, Echevarria opened a hair salon in West Orange where he employed his girlfriend at the time, an undocumented immigrant, to manage the salon, according to the report.
Echevarria’s girlfriend had entered the United States illegally, using the name and identification of an individual in Puerto Rico to obtain a Pennsylvania identification card, accoridng to reports.
The six bribery counts on which Echevarria was convicted each carry a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, or three times the monetary equivalent of the things of value accepted by Echevarria.
The charges of harboring and making false statements are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss arising from the offense. Echevarria’s sentencing is scheduled for June 19.