Reid’s Hispanic Press Secretary, Diana Tejada, was paid compensation for “some expenses” to marry Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003, then assist in the fraudulent citizenship process. Tarhini was under investigation by an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force (JTTF).
Tarhini was able to obtain a work permit and was five years down the path to citizenship when the sham marriage was uncovered by JTTF authorities who then questioned the Reid aide about her faux husband.
Tejada lied to FBI agents and other federal authorities and submitted false documentation to the Department of Homeland Security to present the sham marriage as legitimate in an attempt for Tarhini to obtain his permanent U.S. residency, according to court documents linked in the FoxNews.com report.
“Tarhini, now 37, was held in jail and at an immigration detention center in connection with his 2009 indictment on felony charges, documents show. He pleaded guilty to entering a fraudulent marriage to evade immigration laws — a Class D felony — in November 2009, and he was deported in March 2010,” the report states.
Tejada, now 28, was never charged for her role in the crime.
“We did not charge the woman, and of course we don’t discuss the reasons we don’t charge people,” said Bob Troester, spokesman for the Western District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, which began as an FBI investigation out of the Oklahoma City Joint Terrorism Task Force.
“There’s multiple factors that go into charging decisions. She wasn’t charged and we can’t go beyond that,” Troester told Fox News.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement would not comment on why it took five years to investigate the couple’s marriage.
Fox News found that as recently as Sept. 21, 2010, Tejada was still working for Reid, appearing on a Spanish-language radio program as a Reid spokeswoman. The appearance was a promotion for the DREAM Act legislation and is reported to have included a question and answer session with Tejada on the “dos and don’ts” of the citizenship process.
Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley on Monday evening said Tejada was no longer employed by Reid’s office and would not comment on when or how she left the Majority Leader’s employment.
Manley provided this statement to FoxNews.com:
“Our office was not previously aware of these allegations and, following an internal investigation, the staffer at issue is no longer with our office. The conduct alleged, which took place several years before the staffer worked for Senator Reid, was clearly wrong. But the bottom line remains that this story was a desperation measure by partisan Republicans, who have stooped to slinging mud about junior staffers to score points in the waning days of her campaign.”
A press secretary with the responsibility of speaking to the public and press on behalf of a Senate Majority Leader is not usually considered a “junior staffer.”
According to court documents, Tejada, who also served as Press Secretary of Hispanic Media for the Senate Majority Conference Committee, is referred to as “an uncharged coconspirator in the crime of perjury, filing false immigration documents, the crime of sham marriage.”
Much more at the link to the Fox News exclusive story.