A former US Customs and Border Protection agent pleaded guilty in federal court to allegations of bribery. Federal prosecutors charged that Jose Luis Cota, a 15-year employee, had accepted cash and sexual favors beginning in 2015 in exchange for allowing migrants to go through the port of entry at San Ysidro.
Cota worked with two Mexican nationals to effect the smuggling scheme, and said that he had allowed at least 10 undocumented persons to enter the country illegally. Typically, the individuals being smuggled already had family in the United States. According to Cota’s guilty plea, the undocumented migrants were charged as much as $15,000 to enter the country. In addition to being assured safe passage, the fee sometimes provided the individuals with falsified identity documents.
Cota admitted that he had accepted more than $40,000 in illegal payments connected with the scheme, and federal investigators say they recovered more than $17,000 in cash from a search of Cota’s home.
Investigators began to suspect Cota of illegal behavior after an immigrant who had been reprocessed back to Mexico reported that she and Cota had conversations regarding ways in which they could work together to bring migrants across the border illegally. Cota also married a Mexican woman who was being reprocessed in 2010. He was unsuccessful in obtaining a visa for her to live in the US, but she remained in the US following the denial.
Cota will be sentenced in April in federal court on bribery and conspiracy charges. He will face at least 5 years in prison, but could be sentenced to additional time.
Federal Bribery Attorney
If you’ve been arrested or charged with bribery, accepting kickbacks, market allocation or other similar activity, you need the assistance of an experienced bribery attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively for more than 30 years, and takes cases in any federal circuit in the United States.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for an immediate consultation on your Los Angeles County antitrust case.
Photo Credit: April Arreola, via Flickr.com