(CN) – A former immigration official was arrested Friday morning on charges that he helped his wife collect a $582,000 salary from the government for doing nothing.
A federal grand jury indicted Frank Eugene Johnston, a former special agent in charge for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on wire fraud charges for allegedly approving his wife’s bogus time sheets.
Johnston’s wife, Taryn, 53, also worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and was supervised by her husband.
In 2002, Frank, 51, assigned his wife to “an isolated INS sub-office, approximately six blocks away from the INS main office in Los Angeles,” according to the 25-count indictment.
Soon afterward, she allegedly stopped going to work.
Prosecutors say Frank approved her time sheets, which “frequently also claimed premium pay for overtime and holiday hours.”
As part of the scheme, the couple asked the only other employee at the sub-office to log in to Taryn’s work email account and forward certain messages to her personal email account, according to the indictment.
The government claims Taryn received a salary and benefits of about $582,280 per year “for work she did not perform.”
Frank faces 22 counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property for his alleged role in the scheme.
He was also charged with obstructing justice and lying to prosecutors for allegedly claiming that a convicted felon was providing “ongoing cooperation” in two human-trafficking investigations. Prosecutors say the felon offered no information, and the no one at ICE was investigating either case.
If convicted, Johnston faces up to 465 years in federal prison.
His wife has been charged with two counts, including lying to federal agents. She faces up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.