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Ex CBP officer going to prison Neal Putnam | Sat, Feb 16 2013 12:00 PM

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and Chula Vista resident will surrender to a federal prison by Monday, Feb. 18, to start his eight month term for two crimes — wire fraud and concealing his brother-in-law from arrest.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia ordered Thomas Paul Silva, 33, to pay $8,129 to Farmers Insurance, which paid Silva after he falsely claimed his Nissan Titan pickup was stolen in 2011.

Silva filed a report with Chula Vista Police on Oct. 2, 2011, saying the pickup had been stolen from the 300 block of G Street. Court records say the truck was driven into Mexico on Sept. 24, 2011, and never returned.

Silva reported he had purchased the Nissan in 2009 for $8,500, although the sale was reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles for $4,000.

Silva pleaded guilty to wire fraud because he faxed a claim to the Farmer’s Insurance Company in Oklahoma.

Silva worked at the San Ysidro port of entry and he allowed a vehicle to pass into the U.S. that contained his brother-in-law who was wanted for escaping from a halfway house.

The brother-in-law had been convicted of alien smuggling, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Silva was aware his wife’s brother was wanted for escape.

Silva’s attorney, Marcel Stewart, told the judge that Silva was presented with “a dilemma” of allowing a relative into the country who did not commit a violent crime and he did not want to have his wife’s brother arrested. Silva pleaded guilty to concealing a person from arrest and lost his job.

Stewart asked for house arrest for seven months. The prosecutor asked for 11 months in prison for both crimes. Silva remains free on $50,000 bond until Feb. 18.

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