A former U.S. immigration attorney was sentenced to 17 years in prison Monday for accepting nearly half a million dollars in cash bribes in exchange for letting illegal immigrants stay in the country.
Constantine Peter Kallas, 40, was convicted of three dozen charges in April of last year. Prosecutors sought a 353-month sentence -- nearly 30 years. Officials say that over a five-year period, he accepted payments from illegals totaling at least $425,854.
"Mr. Kallas has received one of the longest sentences ever seen in a public corruption case," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. "The lengthy sentence reflects the seriousness of the crimes, which were a wholesale violation of the public trust."
In addition to serving time in prison, Kallas must pay nearly $300,000 in restitution after receiving worker's compensation fraudulently.
"Corrupt public officials are disgraceful and reprehensible," said Special Agent in Charge of IRS - Criminal Investigation's Los Angeles Field Office Leslie DeMarco.
Kallas was convicted of a grand total of 36 charges -- conspiracy, six counts of bribery, two counts of obstruction of justice, seven counts of fraud and misuse of entry documents, three counts of aggravated identity theft, nine counts of making false statements to the Department of Labor, four counts of making false statements to obtain federal employee compensation and four counts of tax evasion.
Kallas and his wife, Maria Kallas, 41, told illegal immigrants that Kallas was an immigration official and could obtain immigration benefits for them in exchange for bribes.
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"Mr. Kallas was entrusted to help immigrants abide by the law, but instead he enabled them in breaking the law by greedily taking advantage of their desperation," said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.
Maria Kallas pleaded guilty to the charges against her and will be sentenced May 2.
The U.S. attorney's office released a surveillance video showing Kallas accepting a $20,000 cash bribe from an undercover informant at San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in June 2008. He was arrested two months after this video was taken.