LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities this morning arrested a former special agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on federal bribery charges that allege he accepted cash payments and other benefits to provide assistance to a person linked to organized crime, including taking official action designed to help two foreign nationals gain entry into the United States.
Felix Cisneros Jr., 46, of Murrieta, was taken into custody without incident and is expected to be arraigned on a 28-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Cisneros was arrested by special agents with the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
The indictment filed on February 16 and unsealed today charges Cisneros with conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official, bribery, and 26 counts of money laundering.
Over an 18-month period that started in September 2015, Cisneros accepted cash, checks, private jet travel, luxury hotel stays, meals and other items of value from a person identified as Individual 1 who was associated with a criminal organization, according to the indictment. Cisneros allegedly received at least $122,000 from Individual 1 in 2015 and 2016.
Cisneros allegedly accepted the cash and other bribes while a special agent with HSI, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In exchange for the bribes, according to the indictment, Cisneros allegedly performed a series of official acts at the behest of Individual 1, including:
- Accessing a DHS database for information about a German national identified as W.R., and telling Individual 1 he removed a “hit” on W.R., “thus indicating derogatory information had been removed”;
- Placing an alert in a law enforcement database for an address associated with an illegal marijuana grow operation so Cisneros could learn of law enforcement interest and warn Individual 1;
- Obtaining an official DHS letter signed by an HSI assistant special agent in charge to allow the parole of Individual 1’s brother-in-law into the United States from Mexico, and later providing updates about the brother-in-law’s asylum application; and
- Collecting information on an associate of Individual 1 whose home had been searched by law enforcement and later providing Individual 1 with information about the investigation.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The conspiracy charge in the indictment carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, the bribery count carries a sentence of up to 15 years, and each money laundering charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
This matter is being investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ruth C. Pinkel of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.