[A]ccording to the internal agency documents, the agents were ordered by Washington to hold off after officials warned of "significant interest" from Congress and news organizations since the suspect was a volunteer intern for New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez.Prior to the 2012 election, Sen Menendez was enmeshed in a sex scandal when two women from the Dominican Republic said that the Senator paid to have sex with them, reportedly short-changing one of the women.
Luis Abrahan Sánchez Zavaleta was an immigrant from Peru who had overstayed a visitor visa that allowed him to enter the United States. He eventually was arrested at his home in New Jersey on Dec. 6. He has since been released from an immigration jail and is facing deportation.
When The Associated Press first disclosed the delayed arrest of last month, Sanchez, 18, the Homeland Security Department said AP's report was "categorically false."
According to those documents, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Newark had arranged to arrest Sanchez at the local prosecutor's office on Oct. 25. That was fewer than two weeks before the election.
Noting that Sanchez was a volunteer in Menendez's Senate office, ICE officials in New Jersey advised that the arrest "had the possibility of garnering significant congressional and media interest" and were "advised to postpone the arrest" until officials in Washington gave approval. The documents describe a conference call between officials Washington and New Jersey to "determine a way forward, given the potential sensitivities surrounding the case."
In a letter Monday, Assistant DHS Secretary Nelson Peacock said an allegation that the government delayed Sanchez's arrest "for political purposes" was categorically false. Neither the unnamed U.S. official cited in AP's original story or the senators in their letters to the department had specifically alleged that the arrest had been delayed for political purposes. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss details of Sanchez's immigration case, told AP last month that the department had instructed federal agents not to arrest Sanchez until after Election Day.
The documents provided to Congress do not indicate why the arrest should have been delayed or whether anyone outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement — such as in the headquarters offices of the Homeland Security Department — was consulted.
According to police records, Sanchez was 15 when he was arrested on a charge of aggravated sexual assault in 2009. The records show he was accused of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy at least eight times and sentenced to two years' probation and required to register as a sex offender. The AP is not reporting the boy's relationship to Sanchez to avoid identifying the victim.
The agency documents show that Sanchez failed to update his sex offender registration, and local prosecutors considered arresting him for that. During the same time, immigration officials learned that Sanchez had applied for the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would have allowed him to stay in the country and legally work for two years. He did not disclose his arrest or status as a sex offender on the application and was eventually denied, according to the documents.
A high-ranking Dominican official confirmed that both Sen Menendez and a donor identified as Dr Salomon Melgen were frequent visitors to the island nation and attended parties at Megen's villa where orgies were said to hake place.