Accused of accepting at least $122,000 in bribes from a person linked to organized crime, a former agent of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was recently arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official, bribery, and 26 counts of money laundering. In 2018, the former agent had been sentenced to one year in federal prison for providing assistance to a Mexican national with a criminal record to re-enter the United States and then lying to cover up his actions.
Between 2015 and 2016, Special Agent Felix Cisneros Jr. with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which is part of DHS’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, allegedly accepted $122,000 in cash, checks, private jet travel, luxury hotel stays, meals, and other items of value from Edgar Sargsyan, a Beverly Hills attorney with ties to Armenian organized crime. Sargsyan reportedly bribed the HSI agent to alter the records in a DHS database in order to assist a foreign national who was a client of Sargsyan’s law firm to be allowed to enter the United States.
Cisneros has also been accused of obtaining an official DHS letter signed by an HSI assistant special agent in charge to allow the parole of Sargsyan’s brother-in-law into the United States from Mexico, and later providing updates about the brother-in-law’s asylum application. After collecting information about an associate of Sargsyan whose home had been searched by law enforcement, Cisneros allegedly provided Sargsyan with information concerning the investigation.
In March 2017, Cisneros was arrested on unrelated charges of helping a foreign national enter the United States without proper authorization. Cisneros assisted a suspected criminal named Levon Termendzhyan by facilitating Termendzhyan’s business associate, Santiago Garcia-Gutierrez, to re-enter the United States, even though Garcia was barred from being legally admitted into the country.
In April 2018, Cisneros was found guilty of conspiracy to aid and assist the entry of an alien convicted of an aggravated felony into the United States, acting as agent of another person in a matter affecting the government, falsification of records in a federal investigation, and making false statements. In November 2018, the former HSI agent was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison.
In April 2020, Sargsyan agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bribing a public official, and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. According to his plea agreement, Sargsyan admitted to repeatedly bribing an HSI agent and an FBI agent from 2015 through early 2017.
After his release from prison, Cisneros was recently charged with conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official, bribery, and 26 counts of money laundering. The conspiracy charge in the indictment carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, the bribery count carries a sentence of up to 15 years, and each money laundering charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.