W.Va. Fireplace Marshal busts bogus would-be electricians
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – More than a dozen people who traveled to Charleston this week to take the state electrician exam were instead arrested on federal charges of being in the US illegally.
The State Fire Marshal’s office became suspicious of several review requests received earlier this month. The investigation and the intensified scrutiny that resulted from it revealed several additional requests. The firefighter’s investigators coordinated enforcement and removal actions at the U.S. Customs Department for Immigration Issues. This joint effort resulted in a targeted enforcement action at the test site on October 6th and the arrest of 14 people illegally present.
“The men and women of ICE have a vital role in arresting and removing foreign criminals, and we will continue to perform our Congress-intended duty with integrity, courage and professionalism.” said ERO Philadelphia Field Office Director Simona L. Flores-Lund. “ICE will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, including the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office, to vigorously investigate individuals attempting to evade immigration laws.”
The Fire Marshal’s Office administers and enforces the state’s electrical licensing program. In this case, several colleagues from the W.Va. Ministry of Internal Security helped: the W.Va. State Police, the W.Va. Fusion Center and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Charleston police and the city’s Homeland Security Bureau also supported the operation.
“This case underscores the importance of safety rules to protect the public,” said State Fire Brigade Marshal Ken Tree. “In addition to the threat of unsafe or dangerous work, there is the possibility of further fraud and compromises in the licensing process. West Virginia’s electrical licensing program is reciprocal with several other states and this could jeopardize their respective programs. “
Four people were also arrested and charged in November 2019 after taking a test after allegedly lying on their applications. Your cases should be submitted to a large jury.
“When Governor Justice reorganized the new Department of Homeland Security, his goal was to work with all federal agencies, and have them work with state agencies to protect our state and our country from threats to our national security,” said Jeff Sandy, Minister of Homeland Security. “This investigation, conducted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and conducted as a collaborative venture, uncovered individuals who were not even US citizens but were trying to gain certification as an electrician. These arrests have a significant impact on law enforcement in the United States because the test takers were illegal aliens and their use for certification is unknown. According to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigration documents and benefit fraud are crimes that threaten US national and public security by creating a security breach that potentially allows terrorists, other criminals, and illegal aliens to enter and stay in the US . It also endangers the integrity of the legal immigration system. “