Ex-CBP officer accused of wire fraud

Defendant allegedly used travel cash card at 2 stores to get cash to gamble or buy ‘ice’

Federal agents arrested on Wednesday a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who, in 2014, allegedly used his travel cash card at two stores on Saipan to obtain cash or other property and then used the cash to gamble or buy drugs.

Bob Hajime Deleon Guerrero Yamagishi was served with an arrest warrant after a federal grand jury indicted him with 37 counts of fraud by wire.

If convicted, Yamagishi faces a maximum prison term of 740 years.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or both, according to U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona at yesterday’s initial appearance hearing.

Yamagishi allegedly made the illegal cash advance transactions 28 times in July 2014 and nine times in August 2014, for a total amount of $6,227.53.

Yamagishi has already resigned as a CBP officer due to the indictment, Saipan Tribune learned.

Yamagishi, through court-appointed counsel Janet H. King, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manglona set the jury trial for Aug. 3, 2015 at 10am.

After the hearing, Yamagishi was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service.

Assistant U.S. attorney Russell H. Lorfing appeared for the U.S. government.

According to the indictment, as then a CBP officer assigned to the Saipan field office, Yamagishi applied for and received a travel charge card. J.P. Morgan Chase issued the card.

The use of the travel charge by CBP employees is strictly regulated. For example, “Employees may use the travel card to obtain cash travel advances from Automated Teller Machine for official travel…travel advances shall be limited to cash amounts for official travel expenses that cannot practically be charged to the travel card.”

The “use of the travel card for any purpose other than to charge expenses while on official government travel for Customs and Border Protection is prohibited.”

Improper use of the travel card includes unauthorized charges and charges not associated with official travel, personal use of the card, and cash withdrawals not commensurate with official travel.

From July 5 to Aug. 20, 2014, Yamagishi allegedly devised a scheme to defraud J.P. Morgan Chase by obtaining money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses and representations.

Yamagishi would allegedly use his travel card to obtain cash advances through ATM machines operated by two banks on Saipan.

The defendant would also allegedly present the card to an employee of CYC Kagman Market and Yong Hui Market to obtain cash and other property for personal use.

Yamagishi would allegedly then use the cash obtained to gamble or buy methamphetamine.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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