Homeland Security Inspector, Six Others Charged with Shakedown Plot

CHICAGO -- A former senior Homeland Security inspector and six others have been indicted on federal charges stemming from an alleged conspiracy to get bribes in exchange for bogus immigration papers and special favors, authorities said Thursday.

Robert Butman, 40, of suburban Niles, who was based at O'Hare International Airport, was accused of working through middle men to shake down illegal immigrants who were hoping to remain in the country despite their illegal status.

Butman, a senior inspector in the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, was arrested June 30 but was not indicted until now.

Five of the six other defendants were charged for the first time in the 19-count indictment returned Wednesday.

Butman's job at O'Hare was to verify the legal status of incoming foreign nationals and investigate customs or immigration violations.

The indictment charged that over the last four years he and four of his co-defendants conspired to unlawfully transfer and possess immigration documents. Another man is accused of bribing Butman to get a visa for an unnamed person and a woman is accused of paying him to use a federal computer to check her legal status.

An extortion count charges that Butman and two other men sought $10,000 from one individual in return for Butman's agreement not to start deportation proceedings against the man and his wife.

Since his arrest, Butman has been free on $50,000 bond.

His attorney, Patrick Tuite, was in a meeting Thursday afternoon and did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The charges in the indictment carry maximum penalties ranging from five years to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. In addition, the indictment asks that Butman and three others be ordered to forfeit $33,900 in proceeds.