ICE officer indicted on child-porn charge
By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / January 10, 2009
A federal immigration officer was arrested yesterday for allegedly having sex with an 11-year-old child, and photographing the acts, while on official business in Brazil.
Michael Clifford, a 44-year-old immigration agent from Hull, was indicted by a grand jury on a child-pornography charge and ordered held without bail pending a hearing Tuesday. If convicted, he faces 15 to 30 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $250,000.
A woman at Clifford's house in Hull declined to comment.
Clifford, who escorted deported immigrants to their homelands, allegedly picked up the child late at night in March at an outdoor café in Rio de Janeiro, according to the US Attorney's office in Boston. He allegedly returned to his hotel, had sex with the child, and photographed the child involved in sexual acts.
The hotel's security camera showed Clifford entering the hotel with the child late at night and then sending the child out of the hotel the next morning, the US Attorney's office said. The photographs were seized at his home in June. Yesterday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement saying that Clifford was placed on leave after the agency received a complaint last year, and is now suspended without pay. He has worked for the US government for more than 15 years, said spokeswoman Paula Grenier.
The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of Professional Responsibility in New England are investigating.
Clifford's arrest follows two recent immigration-related investigations in New England.
Last month, Lorraine Henderson, Massachusetts' top federal border official in charge of stemming drug smuggling and illegal immigration, was arrested on charges that she hired illegal immigrants to clean her Salem condominium.
This week, seven workers at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., were punished in connection with the death of a 34-year-old Chinese immigrant, Hiu Lui Ng, who was held there for 25 days until he died in August of cancer. The facility denied that the actions resulted in his death, but said the employees were disciplined for failing to follow unspecified policies and procedures. US Immigration and Customs has withdrawn all 153 immigrant detainees from the facility and is investigating the death.
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