Bigamy Gets an ICE Employee Fired

An enforcement officer found himself in hot water when caught being married to two women at the same time and allowing a third woman and her child to use his federal health benefits plan as his wife and stepdaughter. See how the arbitrator and the appeals court ruled.

Charges of bigamy and conduct unbecoming resulted in Department of Homeland Security removing an Immigration Enforcement Agent. (Cruz v. Department of Homeland Security (CAFC No. 2013-3083 (nonprecedential) 10/11/13))

Cruz worked for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Enforcement and Removal Operations. According to the appeals court’s opinion, Cruz’s problems arose when he married a second woman (Ms. Gruber) before he was divorced from his first wife (Ms. Salas). The second wife found out Cruz was still married and obtained an annulment after three months of marriage to Cruz. Texas indicted Cruz for bigamy but eventually dismissed the charge. (Opinion p. 2)

After the annulment ended his marriage to wife number two, Cruz got engaged to a third woman (Ms. DeLeon). In anticipation of the nuptials, Cruz put DeLeon and her daughter on his federal health benefits plan, claiming they were his wife and stepchild. Cruz eventually cancelled the wedding, but not the health benefits designation. DeLeon and her daughter enjoyed benefits under Cruz’s plan. (p. 2)

DHS charged Cruz with bigamy and conduct unbecoming a law enforcement officer. Bigamy was based on his marriage to wife number two while still married to wife number one. Conduct unbecoming stemmed from the improper enrollment of DeLeon and her daughter in Cruz’s health benefits plan. (pp. 2-3)

When the agency fired Cruz, the union took the case to arbitration. The arbitrator sustained the agency’s removal of Cruz, and he appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Unfortunately for Mr. Cruz the appeals court has now upheld the arbitrator’s decision.

Cruz v. DHS

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.