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Border Agent Let Fugitive Slip, Feds Say

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A Customs and Border Protection officer pleaded guilty to helping a fugitive enter the United States and evade arrest, as well as wire fraud charges.

As part of his plea, Thomas Silva agreed to forfeit more than $16,000 in illegal proceeds from his criminal activity and reimburse Farmers Insurance more than $7,000 for his wire fraud scheme.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo entered the plea Tuesday.

Silva admitted to concealing a wanted fugitive from arrest while manning the San Ysidro port of entry, prosecutors say.

"In particular, Silva admitted allowing the fugitive to enter the United States from Mexico without inspection - despite verifying the fugitive's status using CBP's computer systems," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. "Silva further assisted the fugitive by purposefully entering inaccurate information related to the fugitive's car in CBP's computer system in an effort to help the fugitive elude arrest."

In a separate scheme to which he also admitted, Silva hid his Nissan Titan pickup truck in Mexico and then falsely reported that it had been stolen.

Farmers Insurance paid Silva $7,329.37 in response to his false insurance claim.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia must approve the plea and then oversee a sentencing hearing set for Dec. 14 at 9 a.m.

Silva, 33, of Chula Vista, faces 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines for the charges.

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