EXCLUSIVE: Aide to Harry Reid Lied to Feds, Submitted False Documents About Sham Marriage
By Jana Winter
Published October 25, 2010
An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, FoxNews.com has learned.
Diana Tejada, Reid’s Hispanic Press Secretary, admitted to receiving payment for “some of her expenses” in exchange for fraudulently marrying Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003, strictly so he could obtain permanent U.S. residency, according to court documents.
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.
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.”
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement would not comment on why it took five years to investigate the couple's marriage.
As recently as five weeks ago, on Sept. 21, 2010, Tejada appeared as a guest on a Spanish-language radio program in her official capacity as a spokeswoman for Harry Reid.
Monday evening, Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley said Tejada was no longer employed by Reid’s office. When asked when Tejada left Reid’s services, the spokesman had no comment.
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.”
In court documents, Tejada, who was also the 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.”