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INS Employee Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Selling Stolen Documents


A 22-year employee of the Immigration and Naturalization Service pleaded guilty Monday to charges of accepting a bribe and selling stolen immigration documents.

Maria Chica, 52, of Los Angeles admitted stealing 22 permanent resident cards, which she sold for $2,000 to a person who turned out to be a government informant. She also acknowledged selling an INS work permit to the informant for $1,500.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Elisa Fernandez told the judge that investigators had seized another 45 INS documents during a search of Chica's home.

Chica told U.S. District Judge W. Matthew Byrne Jr. that she had acted, in part, because she had been subjected to sexual harassment at the INS.

"I was angry at the agency," she said. But, she added, "I knew what I was doing was wrong."

Chica, who worked at the INS office in downtown Los Angeles, was indicted last month after a five-month FBI investigation.

Prosecutors agreed to recommend that she be sentenced to 15 months in prison in exchange for her plea.

The agreement is not binding on the court.

Chica, who is free on $50,000 bond, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23.

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