Former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent, Christopher Ciccione II, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from cocaine kingpin, Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos, to dismiss an indictment of drug trafficking against Piedrahita.
Money Over Morality
In exchange for the dismissal of the indictment against Piedrahita, Ciccione accepted money and several other valuables and favors. To be specific, $20,000 in cash, dinner and drinks, and prostitution during an extravagant hotel stay in Bogota, Colombia.
When it came to dismissing the drug trafficking indictment against Piedrahita, several steps had to be taken by Ciccione. First, the special agent falsified records that allowed him to convince the Homeland Security Investigations management team and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that Piedrahita was merely a “former” suspect in an already closed investigation.
Next, Ciccione even falsified the reports of other agents to reflect that his information on Piedrahita was correct.
Once he had management and the U.S. Attorney’s Office convinced, not only was Ciccione able to get the indictment dismissed but he had even begun working on permitting Piedrahita and his family entrance into the United States.
All for Nothing
Under careful investigation by the FBI, Homeland Security, and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the scheme between Ciccione and Piedrahita did not come to full fruition.
Currently Piedrahita is incarcerated in the Republic of Columbia, while Ciccione faces sentencing in February, 2018.
The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, The Office of Judicial Attachè in Colombia, the DEA, and The Colombian Attorney General’s Office also provided important resources and information towards this investigation.
Jeffrey A. Newman represents whistleblowers