Border Patrol agent faces trial in killing

On April 23 in Arizona, Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer filed a felony complaint against US Border Patrol agent Nicholas Corbett, charging him with four counts of homicide: first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide. On Jan. 12, Corbett shot to death Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera from the southern Mexican state of Puebla, about 150 yards north of the border between Bisbee and Douglas. The shooting occurred while Corbett was trying to apprehend Dominguez and three others who had entered the country without permission.

While initial news reports said the agent who shot Dominguez had been placed on paid administrative leave, in fact Corbett returned to full duty three days after the shooting. On Apr. 24, a day after being charged, he was removed from active duty and assigned administrative work. He has not been arrested.

A concurrent civil-rights investigation by the FBI has not been completed, said Deborah McCarley, FBI spokesperson in Phoenix. The FBI continues to send information, including the felony complaint filed in Cochise County, to the US Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue charges, said McCarley. (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, April 25)

Agent spared prison for theft

On April 24, former ICE agent Anthony Reyes was sentenced for stealing $4,000 in cash from the family of an immigration detainee who died at a detention facility in Broadview, Illinois. Reyes pleaded guilty last November to embezzlement and admitted he lied to investigators who were checking into what happened to the money. US District Judge John Darrah sentenced Reyes to five years’ probation, ordered him to pay full restitution and fined him $1,000. Reyes worked as an agent for ICE and its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), for over a decade.

According to court records, Reyes was working at the detention facility in Broadview when an immigrant from Cameroon died there—allegedly from complications from a pre-existing medical condition. A supervisor instructed Reyes to send the money via wire transfer to the dead man’s relatives in Cameroon. Repeated complaints from the family in Cameroon led to the discovery of the theft, Judge Darrah revealed in court.

Reyes resigned from ICE in August 2006, and was charged with the theft in September. (It was not clear from available sources when the detainee died, or when the theft took place.) “There’s no words to explain how sorry I am for my actions,” said Reyes, a former Marine who served in the Gulf War. Reyes’ lawyer, Michael Monico, called the theft “a spontaneous decision” by Reyes at a time of financial difficulties. “It has cost his job, his career in law enforcement and unfortunately led to the breakup of his marriage,” Monico said. (Chicago Tribune, April 24; Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 23, 2006)

From Immigration News Briefs, April 28

See our last posts on the immigration crackdown, the border struggle and the Javier Dominguez case.