Former Homeland Security agent gets prison sentence for accepting bribes from drug lord

Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division John P. Cronan makes remarks during the daily press briefing, at the White House, Feb.6, 2018. Cronan on Friday issued a statement praising federal law enforcement for their work in a case that sent a former Homeland Security agent to prison for accepting bribes from a narcotics kingpin. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

Feb. 10 (UPI) — A former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations special agent was sentenced to 36 months in prison Friday for accepting bribes from a fugitive narcotics kingpin, according to admissions in his plea agreement.

Christopher Ciccione II, 52, of Phoenixville, Pa., accepted cash and other valuables while using his official position to dismiss an indictment against Colombian national Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos, according to a Department of Justice statement.

The former special agent admitted to accepting $20,000, dinner, drinks and prostitutes in exchange for records to be altered in Ceballos’ case, saying that he was a former suspect rather than a current one and that the narcotics kingpin was “never positively identified” so his case should be dismissed.

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“Christopher Ciccione abused his law enforcement authority for personal profit,” said John Cronan, acting assistant attorney general. “His actions not only compromised an ongoing investigation and nearly allowed a dangerous drug kingpin to escape justice, but they also betrayed the public trust placed in him to carry out his sworn duties with integrity. Today’s sentence demonstrates the hard work of our federal law enforcement partners to bring criminals to justice — no matter who they are.”

Ciccione was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. of the Southern District of Florida. Ceballos is currently jailed in the Republic of Colombia.

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