Official pleads guilty to bilking ICE
Woosley took reimbursements for non-existent expenses
By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI
A former top official for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has admitted to overseeing a scheme to illegally extract $600,000 from the agency.
James Woosley, 48, the agency's former acting intelligence director, has pled guilty to "conversion of public money," for which he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He is likely to be sentenced to two years or less in prison and a fine of $50,000 or less due to mitigating factors, like his acceptance of responsibility and lack of previous criminal history, according to the plea agreement.
Woosley may also be required to pay restitution for the nearly $190,000 he received under the scheme, according to the deal. He has been released on his own recognizance pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for July 13.
Between 2008 and 2011, Woosley submitted travel vouchers to ICE seeking reimbursement for trips he didn't actually take and for expenses he didn't actually incur, according to a "statement of offense" document referenced in the plea deal.
Woosley was also compensated for "time and attendance claims" even though he wasn't actually working, and "was aware of, or willfully blind as to" similar actions by agency employees and contractors, the document said.
"Defendant Woosley either obtained some of the money from these fraudulent claims or otherwise obtained financial benefit from the money obtained by those fraudulent claims," the document said.
For example, Woosley had his assistant create fake receipts for hotels and other expenses for an intelligence contractor who was actually living temporarily with Woosley in Washington, D.C., the document said.
The same contractor used money from agency travel vouchers to buy a boat that he shared with Woosley, the document said.
Another intelligence researcher employed by ICE obtained more than $100,000 in travel reimbursements from the agency even though he was actually "living rent-free with his girlfriend," the document said. He kicked back roughly half that money to Woosley and his assistant.
In another instance, an ICE employee used reimbursement money to pay rent on a house he shared with Woosley, his sons, his assistant and a contractor, the document said.
Woosley was the fifth and highest-ranking ICE employee or contractor to plead guilty for the scheme, according to the FBI.