A former federal agent in Douglas was sentenced Monday to probation after lying about the identity of a paid confidential informant.
The sentence of two years probation for former Homeland Security Investigations special agent Jesus Arellano brought to a close a yearslong ordeal that included allegations of hiding the identity of a confidential informant, lying to HSI about payments to informants and misuse of government databases and vehicles by Arellano.
By the time Arellano faced Judge Rosemary Marquez on Monday at the federal courthouse in Tucson, an 11-count federal grand jury indictment was reduced to a plea agreement in which Arellano admitted to a single count of making a false report.
As Marquez sentenced Arellano, she noted it was “still unclear to me” the extent of Arellano’s participation in the scheme and how long it went on.
The 11-page indictment described an alleged scheme from 2011 to 2016 in which Arellano’s friend gave Arellano information about illegal activity and Arellano used that information to initiate searches and seizures. Arellano would then attribute that information to another confidential informant who was recognized by HSI, according to the August 2017 indictment.
The informant whose identity Arellano tried to shield was the “son of a close family friend,” defense attorney Sean Chapman wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
At one point in the scheme, HSI approved $13,000 in cash payments for the informant recognized by HSI, even though the information actually was provided by Arellano’s friend. Most of the money ended up with Arellano’s friend, according to the indictment.
By using the informant already known to HSI, Arellano avoided having his friend undergo mandatory criminal history checks for informants, according to the indictment. He also avoided revealing their relationship, as the Arizona Daily Star reported July 20.
“We view this as a selfish crime that had consequences far beyond, I believe, what Mr. Arellano intended,” federal prosecutor Gordon Davenport told Marquez.
Arellano’s scheme “undermined the integrity” of the confidential informant system that is vital to law enforcement, Davenport said.
Due to Arellano’s poor health, the U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended a sentence of time-served and probation, according to the Aug. 8 plea agreement. Court records show Arellano spent less than a week in custody after his arrest.
Arellano agreed to resign from HSI, which he did earlier this month, and not seek employment in law enforcement, according to his plea agreement.
Arellano declined to make a statement at the hearing. In his memorandum, Chapman wrote that Arellano was “not motivated by greed, nor did he receive any personal benefit” by protecting his friend’s identity. Arellano “deeply regrets” his actions.