DHS Official Pleads Guilty to Bribes for Citizenship Documents

A former supervisor at the Department of Homeland Security pleaded guilty Thursday to accepting at least $600,000 in bribes to provide fraudulent citizenship documents to hundreds of Asian immigrants.

Robert T. Schofield, 57, who once supervised as many as 50 employees in the Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Fairfax, Va., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to bribery and to aiding and abetting the illegal procurement of citizenship.

He faces as many as 25 years in prison when he is sentenced in February. Prosecutors said they will seek the maximum sentence.

"We have to go out and arrest these people" who fraudulently obtained immigration and citizenship documents, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Walutes. "It's a huge disruption."

Court records indicate that the government identified hundreds of people who in the past 10 years paid for and fraudulently received from Schofield authentic documents, including naturalization papers and temporary green cards establishing legal residence.

They paid money to immigration brokers, who cut Schofield in for a share of the profits. Court records indicate people paid as much as $30,000 apiece to the brokers for immigration documents. Brokers received at least $3.1 million cumulatively, of which Schofield received at least $600,000.

"The breadth and scope of Mr. Schofield's fraud and corruption are truly stunning," U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement.

A broker who paid Schofield, Qiming Ye of Washington, D.C., has pleaded guilty to visa fraud and awaits sentencing.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.