Former Immigration Officer Pleads Guilty to Concealing Relationship with Foreign National During Security Clearance Investigation
JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Paul Reynolds Friel, Jr. (47, Orange Park) pleaded guilty today to concealing material facts during an interview with a government agent. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. His co-defendant, Marisol Del Carmen Rodriguez Chavarria (40, Orange Park), also pleaded guilty today, to possessing a visa that had been obtained by means of a false statement. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The sentencing dates have not yet been set.
According to court documents, Rodriguez entered the United States from Nicaragua on December 10, 2010, on an immigrant visa issued by the State Department. Her visa was granted based on the false representation that she intended to permanently reside with her American spouse, Luis Aguilar, at his residence. Court records indicate that Friel knew Rodriguez from previous trips to Nicaragua and that he had made the reservations and paid for her airfare to the United States. In March 2011, Rodriguez divorced her spouse and moved into an apartment with Friel. Thereafter, she and Friel lived together in a romantic relationship. In March 2012, they were married and later had a child together.
Friel was an immigration officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In December 2011, during a background investigation for a national security clearance, Friel failed to disclose his relationship with Rodriguez, a foreign national.
Rodriguez’s former spouse, Luis Aguilar, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud, and is awaiting sentencing.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and the Jacksonville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dale Campion.