CBP Officer allegedly steals $15,000 from mail

The back of a CBP officer's shirt reading "CBP Federal Officer" in bold yellow letters.

Most CBP officers I’ve encountered ultimately act ethically, even if I occasionally disagree with an overly aggressive approach to certain enforcement measures. But, even one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. In fact, there have been a few bad apples at CBP over the years. You can read about it at Crossing the Line: Corruption at the Border. Note that though I link to it, I don’t necessarily agree with its contents where opinions are offered.

I say this to lead up to a story about a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer from California who was recently charged with stealing $15,000 worth of checks from a mail facility. The full story is available at Patch.com, but I’m reproducing a portion here. I’m also redacting the name of the accused because I think it’s only fair.

LOS ANGELES, CA – A longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer from Van Nuys is expected in court Monday to face federal charges alleging he stole checks worth over $15,000 from a mail facility and arranged to have an accomplice deposit them.

[He . . . ] was arrested Tuesday without incident by special agents with the FBI and subsequently released on his own recognizance, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The arrest came after [the accused], who has been a customs officer since 2008, was named in an eight-count indictment returned by a Los Angeles federal grand jury last week.

According to the indictment, [the accused] was assigned to a U.S. Postal Service sorting facility in Torrance, where his duties included examining mail and parcels coming into the country for contraband, counterfeit goods, and possible fraudulent financial checks or credit cards.

The [accused] allegedly stole mail that contained traveler’s checks and third- party checks, giving the stolen checks to an accomplice who deposited them into accounts at Bank of America, prosecutors said.

“Americans must be able to trust officials handling their mail which conveys highly valuable information, to include our identification and financial data,” said Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office. “The FBI is committed to holding accountable those, like [the accused], who abuse their positions of trust and threaten our security for personal gain.”

We get a lot of calls from people who have sent cash in the mail and have had it seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. One time, we also got a call from someone who had cash seized and was contacted by someone who identified themselves as a customs agent and demanded that, in order to release the cash, she send him some money as a “penalty.” The caller said she never received any sort of written notice about the seizure, which sounded awfully suspicious to us at the time.

If you’ve had money seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, get a lawyer. You can use our currency seizure legal guide to educate yourself on the process or you can get a free currency seizure consultation and we can discuss the procedures for getting your seized money back.