A Raleigh man who posed as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent to unsuspecting immigrants received a federal prison sentence Wednesday for impersonating a federal officer.
Tommie Rand Pierce, 68, was given a four year, nine-month sentence in federal prison for running a scheme where he posed as an ICE agent and told immigrants he could get them residency papers for a fee, according to a news release from the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
He would often wear shirts and hats with an “ICE” logo on it, and told some clients he deported those who didn’t pay the money owed to him.
Federal agents think he bilked as many as 265 immigrants, most of whom weren’t entitled to receive residency in the United States because they overstayed tourist visas or crossed the border illegally. But Pierce still took their money and sent their applications in to the federal immigration offices, telling the immigrants that he had special pull.
After serving 57 months in prison, Pierce will be released and spend another three years on federal supervised probation.
Pierce’s actions first surfaced in 2008, when La Conexion, a Spanish-language newspaper based in Raleigh, wrote about how Pierce scammed members of a local church community.
But it wasn’t until 2010 that federal authorities began a criminal investigation into Pierce when a lawyer with the N.C. Justice Center alerted them about Pierce’s actions. (The N.C. Policy Watch is a project of the N.C. Justice Center).
We wrote about Pierce’s arrest back in September, click here to read that report.
From that article:
Pierce went to great lengths to keep up the appearance that he was a federal immigration agent.
“’I am the one you do not want to see knock on your door,’” Pierce told one informant who was wearing a wiretap.
Federal court records say he drove a truck with police-style lights on it, and carried a badge. He often wore shirts or hats with “ICE” printed on it, and would tell immigrants that he worked to help immigrants get legal status during the day, and arrested people at night.
He told immigrants he purported to be helping he would call in favors to helped immigrants he knew to be good people and get the legal status they wanted, according to court documents.
But he also warned his clients that there would be payback if they didn’t pay him. One woman who later spoke with ICE agents about Pierce said he warned her that once he wasn’t paid and “took a bus the female’s neighborhood and deported everyone living there,” according to the criminal complaint.