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Veteran Customs Official Found Guilty of Taking Payoffs, Lying

November 06, 1986|From a Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — A federal court jury Wednesday convicted a veteran U.S. Customs investigator on charges of official corruption in a case tied to allegations of drug smuggling by high-ranking federal agents.

Richard P. Sullivan of Bonita, near San Diego, was found guilty of taking payoffs, lying to federal investigators and falsifying credit applications, all to further a scheme that prosecutors say was hatched by other corrupt Customs officials to launder proceeds from marijuana smuggling operations.

Sullivan, a 10-year veteran of the Customs Service and a former Border Patrol officer, faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Leland C. Nielsen, who presided in Sullivan's 2 1/2-week trial, said Wednesday that he intends to order prison time for the suspended agent when Sullivan is sentenced Dec. 15.

The jury acquitted Sullivan on charges of conspiring to import marijuana and on two counts of lying to an investigating agent. It did not reach a verdict on a charge of failing to file a federal currency transaction report.

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