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California

Immigration officer who took cash, egg rolls gets 2 1/2 years

An immigration officer who demanded and received thousands of dollars in bribes and in one case, a couple of hundred egg rolls, in exchange for favorable treatment in citizenship or residency applications was sentenced Friday to two and a half years in federal prison.

Mai Nhu Nguyen, 48, an eight-year official with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Santa Ana, pleaded guilty this year to receiving bribes as a public official between July 2011 and May 2013. As an immigration service officer, Nguyen had the power to approve or deny applications for immigration benefits, authorities said.

In one case, she received $1,000 for approving a permanent residency status; in another, she had an applicant purchase egg rolls she said she needed for a big party; in a third case, she asked for and received $2,200, unaware that federal authorities were surveilling her.

Nguyen was arrested in June 2013 when agents confronted her after she had received the $2,200. She immediately dropped the cash-filled envelope but was still carrying the lunch of egg rolls and dessert that she had also demanded the applicant bring, according to an affidavit in the case.

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Nguyen’s attorney had asked that she be placed on home detention and community service, calling her actions “inexplicable” and calling her a dedicated mother of five who has worked hard to provide for her family and overcome a difficult childhood in communist Vietnam.

For news on the courts, follow @vicjkim


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