Immigration officer convicted for accepting bribes
A former immigration officer was convicted in federal court on Aug. 1 for taking bribes from Cambodian immigrants in exchange for immigration benefits, including granting the immigrants temporary legal status. The former immigration officer and his wife were also convicted of witness tampering.
Billy Louis Nelms, Sr., 54, of Los Angeles, was convicted of felony counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and defraud the United States, bribery, conspiracy to witness tamper, and witness tampering. Sokhon Nelms, 60, of Los Angeles, was convicted of conspiracy to witness tamper and witness tampering. As a result of the convictions, Nelms faces a statutory maximum sentence of 95 years, and his wife faces a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years.
The evidence at trial showed that between 2005 and August 2008, Billy Nelms worked as an immigration officer in the Fraud Detection and National Security unit. The evidence showed that during that time, as part of the scheme, the Cambodian immigrants were promised permanent legal status.
The immigrants, who were illegally in the United States, typically paid approximately $5,000 in cash for the permanent legal status. In exchange, Billy Nelms stamped immigration documents, giving them temporary legal status in the United States.
The evidence at trial showed that following Billy Nelms’s original indictment in June 2013 in the case for bribery and fraud, he and his wife tampered with two of the witnesses identified in the original indictment. On one occasion, with Billy Nelms present, Sokhon Nelms told a witness not to speak to anyone, according to court records.
The case was investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.