South Bay : INS Officer Charged in Beating Incident


A 39-year-old immigration detention officer has been arraigned on federal civil rights charges stemming from a 1994 incident in which the guard reportedly beat and injured a Cuban national attempting to flee the agency’s lockup on Terminal Island.

Paina Moeai, a four-year employee of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, pleaded not guilty this week to two counts of deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law in connection with the incident Oct. 30, 1994. His trial is scheduled to start March 19.

A federal grand jury indicted Moeai on Jan. 10 after extensive hearings regarding the attack on Enrique Pereira-Grau, who was treated at a San Pedro hospital for unspecified injuries after the incident.


According to the indictment, Pereira-Grau, 31, had escaped from the razor wire-enclosed facility and was discovered hiding some distance away. In a van on the way back to the center, the grand jury found, Moeai assaulted the escapee with unspecified force. Later at the facility, he reportedly struck Pereira-Grau in the face and slammed him against a wall.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Gennaco said the indictment did not indicate what, if any, altercation or argument preceded the alleged assaults.

Moeai was reassigned after the incident, and the INS a short time later launched an investigation that eventually resulted in the indictment.