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In a stunning news conference today, Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced that his office is charging a federal agent for allegedly stealing from undocumented immigrants.

District Attorney Seth Williams says Justin Ford stole from undocumented immigrants.

District Attorney Seth Williams says Justin Ford stole from undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Justin Ford stands accused of a slew of charges, including theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, official oppression and conspiracy.

“On February 24, 2015, Agent Ford and his partner met with Philadelphia Police to take a prisoner, who was actually an undercover Philadelphia Police Officer assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, into custody,” explains the DA’s office. “Agent Ford’s partner searched the prisoner and found $2,000 in marked bills. Then, once alone with the prisoner, Agent Ford repeatedly asked the prisoner about the money and when the undercover agent could not verify the amount, Agent Ford returned most of the money to the prisoner.”

When the prisoner was taken into custody in York, officials there at York County Prison reported $200 was missing from the original $2,000. Then, when Ford made his way back to Philadelphia, members of the Philadelphia SWAT unit confronted him. Authorities say Ford had two marked $100 bills in his possession.

Undocumented immigrants are often cited as one of the most vulnerable populations in the nation, mostly because they’re often afraid to report crimes and interact with authorities. And deportation detention facilities are themselves known for deplorable conditions, too. So, the notion that a federal agent was taking advantage of all of those facts, if true, is truly horrendous.

“What Mr. Ford did was deplorable,” says Williams. “It wasn’t the first time he stole from deportees, and so he will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.” The district attorney went on to thank the Philadelphia Police Department and other agencies for cooperating with one another to “get this bad officer off the streets.”

About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the 2014 First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2014 Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the United States and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. He also blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

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