A Diamond Bar man was arrested today after being indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and making false statements to investigating agents with the Department of Homeland Security.
Sam Herbert Allen, 51, works as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection supervisory officer. He faces charges of accepting bribes to allow others, including his former wife, so sneak goods into the United States so that they wouldn’t have to pay duties and taxes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the five-count indictment, Allen served as a supervisory officer assigned to oversee the examination and release of cargo entering the United States. After he was transferred to other duties within CBP, Allen convinced his ex-wife to operate an importing business that would avoid paying duties on shipments coming from the People's Republic of China.
The importing business - technically a "foreign trade zone" - would falsely claim that the shipments from China were not imported, but were instead immediately sent to Mexico. The indictment alleges that Allen promised to make the shipments appear to CBP as if they had been exported to Mexico, this in exchange for bribe payments of $2,000 per shipment.
During the course the scheme, which operated from at least September 2009 until March 2010, Allen allegedly received more than $100,000 in bribe payments.
The indictment alleges that the scheme caused the United States to suffer a loss of at least $781,632.59 in unpaid customs duties and taxes.
"When public servants break the law, it leaves behind an indelible stain," said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. "Here, Officer Allen violated the public trust by allegedly using his position in a government agency to line his pockets and deprive the United States of legitimate taxes owed in the normal course of business. The indictment against Allen vindicates the interests of the United States and should also provide relief to citizens who expect the government to operate without corruption."
The indictment goes on to allege that Allen encouraged his ex-wife to lie - and that Allen himself lied - to federal law enforcement personnel investigating and prosecuting this scheme. Allen is also charged with lying to investigators when he denied discussing a separate scheme to smuggle cocaine into the United States from Mexico.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed crimes. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Allen is expected to be arraigned on the indictment today in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
If he is convicted of the five counts in the indictment, Allen would face a statutory maximum penalty of 35 years in federal prison.
The investigation into Allen was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Internal Affairs. Allen's ex-wife, Wei Lai, was charged with crimes related to her role in the smuggling scheme in July 2011. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to go to trial with another defendant on February 19, 2013.
--U.S. Department of Justice