Border agent who let fugitive brother-in-law pass through inspec - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Border agent who let fugitive brother-in-law pass through inspection lane sentenced to prison

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A former Customs and Border Protection officer who allowed his fugitive brother-in-law into the United States through his lane at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, and in a separate scam falsely reported his truck stolen, was sentenced Friday to eight months in federal prison.

Thomas P. Silva, 33, pleaded guilty last October to concealing a person from arrest and wire fraud.

Defense attorney Marcel Stewart -- citing Silva's positive contributions to society -- unsuccessfully urged U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia to sentence the defendant to one month in custody and 11 months of home confinement.

As he pronounced sentence, the judge called Silva's betrayal to his country an "outrage."

"You have belied the oath you'd taken," Battaglia told the defendant.

Battaglia told Silva he had "embarrassed" the United States, and as a border agent "was entrusted with a great responsibility."

Stewart said Silva joined the National Guard out of high school and was honorably discharged in 2003, before joining the Border Patrol.

Silva said that since he was 17, he's worn the uniform of the United States.

"Some mistakes I've done have pretty much disgraced that," Silva told the judge.

Silva allowed his brother-in-law -- who had been convicted of human smuggling -- to enter the United States from Mexico last April without inspection, despite verifying the fugitive's status a month earlier using CBP's computer systems, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Mazza said.

The brother-in-law, Julio Cesar Landaverde Valdez, was a wanted fugitive because he had walked away from a halfway house, Mazza said.

During a subsequent search of the defendant's bedroom, investigators found $20,000 in $100 bills hidden behind an electrical panel, Mazza said.

As part of his plea agreement, Silva agreed to forfeit $16,072 in illegal proceeds from his criminal activity.

The defendant also admitted engaging in a separate scheme to defraud Farmers Insurance of $8,129 by falsely reporting that his Nissan Titan pickup had been stolen.

Silva admitted that he had in fact taken the truck to Mexico before reporting it stolen and agreed to pay restitution to Farmers.

Battaglia ordered Silva to surrender for custody Feb. 18.

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