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January 6, 2010

Former CBP officer cops plea in shake down case

A former CBP officer has copped a plea in a case in which he is alleged to have shaken down vessel masters in return for conducting improper inspections.

U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced yesterday that a 39-year-old former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, assigned to Port Arthur, Texas has pleaded guilty to public corruption in the Eastern District of Texas.

Tyrus Kidd, of Beaumont, was charged in a superseding indictment on Dec. 16, 2009, with accepting an illegal gratuity and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone.

According to the superseding indictment, on August 23, 2009, Kidd allegedly demanded and subsequently accepted illegal gratuities from the Captain of the Motor Vessel Chaconia for conducting an inspection of the vessel. Kidd was first indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 9, 2009, and arrested by Special Agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Internal Affairs.

Kidd faces up to two years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

In the original indictment, unsealed on Oct. 9, 2009, Kidd was charged with two counts of bribery, one count of accepting an illegal gratuity, and one count of making a false statement. According to the original indictment, on April 30, 2009, May 20, 2009, and again on August 23, 2009, Kidd allegedly demanded and subsequently accepted illegal gratuities from the Captains of the Motor Vessel Valbruna and the Motor Vessel Chaconia, for conducting improper inspections of the vessels. Finally, the indictment alleged that on August 24, 2009, Kidd made false statements to CBP in which he denied soliciting and accepting the illegal gratuities.

Kidd could have faced 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges in the original indictment.


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