Ex-federal officer convicted in bribes-for-immigration-papers scheme

Former U.S. immigration officer convicted of bribery in cash-for-legal papers scheme

A 54-year-old former U.S. immigration officer was convicted Friday of taking bribes in return for giving temporary legal status to foreigners in this country.

Billy Louis Nelms Sr., an immigration officer in the Santa Ana federal building, was accused of promising Cambodians legal permanent status.

Under the scheme, the immigrants who were in the United States without legal status paid about $5,000 in cash, and in return, Nelms offered stamped documents giving temporary legal status, according to a statement by the U.S. attorney’s office.

He and his wife, Sokhon Nelms, 60, were also convicted of witness tampering and conspiracy. Sokhon Nelms was accused of telling a witness, while her husband was present, not to testify, the statement said.

Nelms, who also was convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery and defraud the United States, could face up to 95 years in prison. His wife faces a maximum sentence of 60 years.

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