Customs Official and His Wife Sentenced to Prison for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery and Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 25, 2009|
PHOENIX—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer Henry M. Gauani, 41, and his wife Flora A. Gauani, 46, both of Yuma, Ariz., were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to 37 months in federal prison, 200 hours of community service, and $8,000 in restitution. Both defendants pleaded guilty in June 2009, to conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to import “ecstasy,” a schedule one controlled substance.
“As we tighten physical border security, bribery of public officials cannot be an alternative entry point for drug trafficking,” stated Dennis K. Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. "Public servants are held to a higher standard and the vast majority are honest and hard working. Those who fall prey to corruption, will see federal prosecution following quickly behind.”
The conspiracy in this case was to allow vehicles loaded with controlled substances, specifically Methylene-Dioxy-Meth-Amphetamine, aka “ecstasy,” to pass through the Port of Entry without proper inspection. In return for allowing the vehicles to pass from the Republic of Mexico into the U.S. without proper inspection, the Gauanis were paid a total sum of $33,000 in cash. During the course of the conspiracy, Henry Gauani, acting in his official duty as a CBP Officer, arranged with Flora Gauani and a confidential informant to have vehicles loaded with ecstasy arrive at his lane of inspection at the Port of Entry. When the vehicle loaded with ecstasy passed into Henry's inspection lane at the Port of Entry, Henry would allow the confidential informant’s vehicle to pass through his lane into the U.S. without proper inspection.
As part of a joint investigation by federal law enforcement, the Gauanis were arrested in January 2009, after allowing a shipment of what they believed were a large amount of ecstasy pills to pass through Henry Gauani’s inspection lane.
The sentencing hearing occurred on November 23, 2009. The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Internal Affairs. The prosecution is being handled by Cassie Bray Woo and Howard Sukenic, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-09-126-PHX-JAT
RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-367(Gauani et al)