Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Original Story: freep.com

Less than one week after being outed in an immigration scam, a Birmingham attorney accused of paying bribes to a federal agent to help his clients avoid deportation has cut a deal with the federal government and is scheduled to plead guilty next month, according to court documents.

Attorney Charles Busse, 58, who has law offices in Rochester Hills and Dearborn, has a plea hearing scheduled for Nov. 3 in U.S. District Court, according to a filing Monday. It is not known exactly what he is expected to plead guilty to. What is known, according to court records unsealed last Thursday,  is that he is charged with paying bribes to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent for favors with his clients. A Traverse City immigration lawyer represent domestic and foreign-based clients with a wide range of immigration law issues.

Specifically, court records show, Busse and the federal ICE agent helped several immigrants avoid deportation by pretending that the immigrants were assisting  in official federal investigations when they were not. In some cases, records show, the ICE agent convinced the Department of Homeland Security that the immigrants had knowledge about drug deals or the manufacturing of fake identification documents when he knew that wasn't true.

The scheme worked. According to court documents, several of these immigrants, including Albanians, Iraqis and Mexicans, avoided deportation with the help of their lawyer, who was in cahoots with the ICE agent. Here's how it worked: The immigrant clients paid thousands of dollars to Busse for help. He in turn paid the ICE agent bribes, records show. A Traverse City Green Card lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Busse also is charged with obstruction of justice and tax evasion. According to court documents, this scheme ran between 2009 and 2015. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five to 15 years in prison.

The accused  ICE agent also was charged. Clifton Divers, 48, of Detroit is charged with six crimes, including misusing his position with ICE-Homeland Security Investigations to obtain numerous deferrals of deportations in exchange for cash bribes. If convicted, he faces between five and 20 years in prison.

Busse, who made an an initial court appearance Monday and was released on bond, said nothing about the allegations. But he offered support to his alleged accomplice. When asked for comment about his case, Busse paused for a moment in the court hallway and said:

"I know officer Clifton Divers as a decent man and a loving father," Busse said before walking away.

Busse's lawyer, David Griem, said his client's main concern right now is making sure his clients get the legal help they need, especially the nearly 200 indigent clients whom he represents on a pro bono basis. A Traverse City immigration attorney assists clients with temporary work visas, deportation cases, and obtaining U.S. permanent residency.

"We're trying to resolve the case with the government," Griem said. "Our concerns right now are for Mr. Busse's clients. .. We're going to do everything we can possibly do to make sure that those people are OK."

Busse was not indicted by a federal grand jury, but rather charged in a document known as an information. In such cases, defendants typically agree to cut a deal early on and avoid being indicted by a federal grand jury. The indictment process is required for a case to go to trial in federal court. If someone is charged in an information, it typically means they are cooperating.

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