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Five Arrested in Smuggling Bust

July 18, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A senior Customs Service agent, a lawyer and three others have been arrested for an alleged scheme to smuggle 15,000 counterfeit Microsoft computer programs from Hong Kong to the United States.

The arrests announced Monday stemmed from an investigation of complaints that Richard Casas, a senior Customs agent, was receiving kickbacks for referring criminal suspects to criminal defense attorney Lawrence S. Boyle.

An undercover informant helped make the arrests after winning the group’s confidence by pretending to be trouble with the law.

Boyle boasted to the operative that he had a Customs source who could arrange the smuggling through the Port of Los Angeles without being detected, said Ken Cates, supervisor of the Customs Service’s internal affairs investigation.

The five suspects are free on bail, and will have court hearings in coming weeks.

Boyle’s lawyer, Rob Scroggie, declined to comment on the specific charges. But he said the defense might challenge the undercover operative’s role in the case because the Customs Service acknowledged in affidavits that he had substantial credibility and reliability issues.

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