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U.S. Customs Attorney Found Guilty For Accepting Immigrants' Bribes

A senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorney was found guilty or corruption Tuesday for taking bribes from immigrants who wanted to stay in the country legally.

Peter Kallas, an assistant chief counsel at the agency, was convicted of "conspiracy, six counts of bribery, two counts of obstruction of justice, seven counts of fraud and misuse of entry documents, three counts of aggravated identity theft, nine counts of making false statements to the Department of Labor, four counts of making false statements to obtain federal employee compensation, and four counts of tax evasion," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

The 39-year-old from Alta Loma, Calif., was jailed in August, 2008 after he was arrested at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. in June for accepting a bribe from an immigrant there. His wife, 41-year-old Maria Kallas, was present and subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering last year. Her sentencing is scheduled for June.

Authorities say the couple promised to help illegal immigrants become legal for bribes of up to $20,000. At one point, federal authorities state, Kallas took $7,000 from his own housekeeper and promised to dismiss "removal proceedings" against the woman's daughter. The pair also promised employment to the victims through companies they had set up.

A $950,000 bank account and $177,000 in cash discovered by federal agents in a floor safe at the couple's home indicated the kind of money the pair had earned.

"Mr. Kallas was a corrupt government official who abused his position of trust to line his own pockets," said the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, André Birotte Jr. "This case should serve as a warning to any public official who might consider trading a quick buck for illegal acts that making this trade could send them to prison."

Kallas could see 256 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for August.


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