False Police Report Leads to Removal of Homeland Security Officer

A Customs and Border Protection Officer reported his car had been stolen. When police recovered the car and made an arrest, he tried to have the charges dropped. After admitting that the woman he initially claimed he did not know had been his mistress for some time, his future career as a federal employee was thrown into doubt. A federal court reviewed his removal appeal.

A Customs and Border Protection Officer, fired for filing a false police report, was not able to convince the appeals court to overturn his removal. (Joyce v. Department of Homeland Security, C.A.F.C. No. 2009-3035 (nonprecedential), 7/8/09)
David Joyce worked at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport where he was a uniformed federal law enforcement officer responsible, among other things, for preventing terrorists and weapons of mass destruction from entering the country. (Opinion p. 2)
His troubles started when he reported to the police that his car had been stolen.
The police recovered the car and arrested Abelina Perez at the scene for theft. Several days later Joyce tried to have the charges against her dropped.
He claimed that he had given a set of his car keys to a friend and had just found out that Abelina was the friend’s daughter. (p. 2)
Unfortunately for Joyce, the district attorney’s office learned that Joyce had lied about not knowing Abelina.
Joyce ended up admitting that she had been his mistress for the past few years. Not surprisingly, the DA’s office notified the Department of Homeland Security that Joyce “may have filed a false police report.” (p. 2)
DHS removed Joyce and the Merit Systems Protection Board upheld the action, concluding that Joyce had made a false statement with intent to mislead authorities about his relationship with Abelina. (p. 2)
Joyce tried to persuade the appeals court that the agency had not proved its case, but the court found the record “replete with evidence” of his false statement and that he did indeed intend to mislead.
As for the removal penalty, the court had no trouble sustaining it, “given [his] position of trust as a law enforcement officer and the fact that he made the false statement to other…law enforcement officials.” (p. 3, quoting the MSPB decision.)

The court made short work of upholding the MSPB and the agency’s firing of Mr. Joyce. 

About the Author

Susan McGuire Smith spent most of her federal legal career with NASA, serving as Chief Counsel at Marshall Space Flight Center for 14 years. Her expertise is in government contracts, ethics, and personnel law.