Ex-Homeland Security supervisor charged with lying to FBI

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SAN DIEGO — A former supervisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was arraigned in federal court in San Diego Tuesday on charges of lying to the FBI about his alleged improper transmission of sensitive law enforcement information.

The charges against Johnny Martin, 59, of Chula Vista stem from an investigation into a wide-ranging immigration-fraud scheme involving more than 150 victims and millions of dollars in losses, court documents state.

According to an indictment in the case, FBI agents approached Martin last June and asked about his purported dealings with a suspect who allegedly had shared information with him from 2010 to 2012.

While employed by Homeland Security Investigations in 2015 and 2016, Martin allegedly searched a confidential law enforcement database improperly on more than a dozen occasions for names provided by the suspect, whose name was not released, and then created new documents containing the confidential information and used his personal email account to send the documents he created to that person.

During the FBI interview, agents showed Martin an example of the sensitive information that he allegedly had extracted from a confidential law enforcement database and emailed to the suspect. The document contained the personal information, immigration history and criminal past of someone who had been victimized by the immigration fraud scheme, and agents were attempting to determine how the document had been obtained.

According to the indictment, Martin lied to agents when he claimed that he had no idea how the data had been illicitly transmitted and when he denied sending it or any other sensitive law enforcement information to the suspect.

Martin’s case is related to a separate immigration-fraud prosecution pending against two people who allegedly posed as Homeland Security agents and defrauded people by claiming that they could obtain immigration status and stop deportation proceedings in exchange for exorbitant fees.

According to court filings, the pair was able to pass for federal agents, in part, by presenting victims with confidential information obtained from law enforcement databases.

Martin, who no longer works for HIS, has been released on bond. His next court hearing in the case is scheduled July 27.

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