The former police chief of Jarrell pleaded guilty Friday to federal fraud charges, admitting he accepted bribes from undocumented workers to help them obtain temporary immigration status.
Appearing before a U.S. magistrate judge in Austin, Andres Tomas Gutierrez answered a series of mostly yes-or-no questions during the 40-minute hearing. The former small-town police chief admitted to a single charge of wire fraud/theft of honest services stemming from a federal investigation that alleged he took payments from several people to give them immigration benefits for helping with bogus police investigations. ...
As for the undocumented workers caught in the scam, [US Attorney Robert] Pitman said those victims “at no point presented a public safety threat,” and they will remain in the country for the time being. They now legitimately qualify for the temporary immigration status available to people cooperating with a criminal investigation, he said.An earlier story gave more detail about the scheme:
Court records say Gutierrez collected the payments from the fall of 2011 to November 2013. Two other people, who weren’t named in the court documents and didn’t work for the city of Jarrell, introduced Gutierrez to undocumented workers who had money to pay for immigration benefits, the documents said.RELATED POLICE MISCONDUCT NEWS: Last month, an East Texas police chief was sentenced to five years in prison for running a license plate check on behalf of a suspected meth dealer. ALSO: Reported the Austin Statesman, "A former Austin police officer has pleaded guilty to giving false information to federal authorities during a credit card fraud investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office." AND: A now-former Tarrant County Sheriff's Deputy was sentenced to 30 years in prison for impregnating a 16-year old relative. AND: Reported AP, "Federal prosecutors say a former sheriff's deputy in West Texas has been sentenced to four years in prison for distributing cocaine."
Gutierrez and the two people working with him told the illegal immigrants they would be working as informants for the Jarrell Police Department, the documents said. As they asked for the payment, they “lied to the (undocumented residents), telling them that the Jarrell Police Department would receive the money and use it to pay expenses related to official business,” the documents said. In fact, authorities said, Gutierrez and his accomplices kept “the money for their own personal use,” the documents said.
Then Gutierrez emailed applications to U.S. government officials in Austin, seeking a special type of immigration status for those individuals by claiming they were helping the Jarrell Police Department with narcotics and human trafficking investigations, authorities said. The “Significant Public Benefit Parole” — available to foreigners who assist local, state and federal law enforcement agencies — allows them to remain in the United States for one year. It can be renewed by a law enforcement agency.