Former Jarrell Police Chief Sentenced to Federal Prison
In Austin today, 52-year-old former Jarrell (TX) Police Chief Andres Tomas Gutierrez was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for a wire fraud/theft of honest services scheme announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent In Charge Janice Ayala in San Antonio; Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General– Investigations Special Agent In Charge J. Kirk Beauchamp in Houston; and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent In Charge Christopher H. Combs, San Antonio Division.
On February 7, 2014, Gutierrez pleaded guilty to the wire fraud/theft of honest services charge. By pleading guilty, Gutierrez admitted that from the Fall of 2011 to November 2013, he devised a scheme to defraud and deprive the citizens of Jarrell of their right to his honest services through bribery and concealment of information. Gutierrez solicited and accepted cash bribes—between $10,000 and $40,000—from several undocumented aliens in return for requesting and obtaining for the aliens limited immigration benefits that the U.S. government intended and designed for law enforcement purposes. Gutierrez falsely represented to the U.S. government that the undocumented aliens were assisting the Jarrell Police Department with ongoing investigations into narcotics trafficking and human trafficking.
According to court records, individuals unconnected to the City of Jarrell and its Police Department introduced Gutierrez to undocumented aliens who had money to pay for immigration benefits. Gutierrez or the individuals who made the introductions, or both, then met with the aliens and explained the benefits they could receive if they paid certain amounts of money. They lied to the aliens, telling them that the Jarrell Police Department would receive the money and use it to pay for law enforcement operations. They also told the aliens that they would provide information or assistance to the Jarrell Police Department, for use in criminal investigations, in return for the immigration benefits. That was also a lie. Gutierrez never asked the aliens to provide assistance or information in connection with criminal investigations. What Gutierrez asked for and received from the aliens was money.
Furthermore, with the help of the individuals who introduced him to the aliens, Gutierrez simply sold the aliens the benefits. After an alien paid his or her money, Gutierrez would submit to the U.S. government an application for the alien to receive what is known as a Significant Public Benefit Parole, which is a type of immigration status that federal immigration laws make available to aliens who actually assist federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The Paroles authorize an alien to reside and work in the United States for up to a year, and they can be renewed. The applications that Gutierrez submitted said the aliens were providing assistance with ongoing criminal investigations by the Jarrell Police Department, which was false. Also, Gutierrez never disclosed to the United States government that he was selling the Paroles.
“The sentencing of Andres Gutierrez, the former Jarrell Police Chief, is the culmination of a long-term investigation into corruption and the violation of public trust,” said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Antonio. “This case illustrates the ability of federal law enforcement agencies to leverage resources and work together to achieve justice.”
“Acts of corruption within law enforcement threaten our nation’s system of justice and undermine the honest and hardworking law enforcement personnel who consistently strive to keep that system the best in the world. The Department of Homeland Security will not tolerate corruption, and we will aggressively pursue those who choose to break the law,” stated DHS OIG SAC J. Kirk Beauchamp.
“The FBI will continue to utilize all resources to investigate those who have taken an oath to serve and protect our communities and use their position as a public servant to shield their criminal activities and violate the trust of those they serve,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs.
This investigation was conducted by agents with Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General—Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Alan M. Buie and Gregg N. Sofer prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.