South Florida

U.S. investigative aide tips off drug target at air base. Now, she may go to prison

Former Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Ivette Dominguez
Former Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Ivette Dominguez Handout

As an assistant for Homeland Security Investigations, Ivette Dominguez lied to her HSI colleagues about tipping off a target of their steroids-distribution probe at the Homestead Air Reserve Base, prosecutors say.

The 33-year-old investigative assistant has not only lost her job, but she may also face prison time.

Dominguez pleaded guilty Monday in Miami federal court to making false statements to HSI agents when she was asked about whether she leaked investigative information to the target.

Dominguez, who conducted database and criminal history checks for an HSI group investigating drug trafficking and immigration crimes, initially alerted the target about the steroids-distribution probe at the Air Force reserve base in Southwest Miami-Dade in December 2017, according to a factual statement filed with her plea agreement. She warned the target not to sell illegal steroid drugs to a person cooperating with HSI investigators who would approach her.

Six months later, Dominguez contacted the target before she was going to be interviewed by HSI agents to let her know that their investigation was “weak” and that she had no obligation to cooperate with them, the statement says.

Then in March of this year, Dominguez exchanged a series of text messages with someone she believed to be a friend of the target. The investigative assistant did not know that she was corresponding with an undercover agent.

The undercover agent told her that the target was going to be interviewed by HSI investigators. In response, Dominguez asked the agent to tell the target to lie to the investigators about ever receiving a warning from her about the steroids probe.

According to the factual statement, Dominguez was confronted by HIS agents on April 26. They told her that they received allegations that she had alerted the target of the steroids investigation.

During questioning, Dominguez initially denied any wrongdoing. But after she was confronted about the text messages she exchanged with the undercover agent, Dominguez admitted alerting the target about the probe and providing her with information. She also admitted warning the target not to sell steroids to a person who would approach her. Finally, Dominguez said she asked the target to lie to HSI to protect her.

Dominguez, who is represented by defense attorney Marc Seitles, faces up to five years in prison at her sentencing before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom on Oct. 11. The case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Stamm, was investigated by agents with Homeland Security Investigations and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility.