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Felony fugitive found working for DHS for 2 years

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Red-faced bosses from the Department of Homeland Security are trying to explain how they failed to know that one of their employees had been a wanted fugitive for more than two years.

According to numerous news reports, Tahaya Buchanan was hired by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1995 and eventually came to work in the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Atlanta in 2007 following an agency reorganization.

That same year, the 39-year-old was indicted on a charge of second-degree insurance fraud on allegations she staged the theft of her Range Rover SUV. In January 2008, a warrant for her arrest was entered into the the National Crime Information Center system, and in July of this year, Buchanan was arrested by a traffic officer and spent a week in a Georgia jail.

And yet it wasn't until Tuesday that immigration officials discovered Buchanan had been a known fugitive.

A spokesman for the immigration service said background checks are conducted on employees before they are hired and criminal history checks are performed every 10 years. Buchanan's most recent check was conducted in 2005, before charges were brought. Agency employees are also required to report any contact they have with law enforcement officers, the spokesman said.

The DHS has become notorious for its no-fly list, which is said to be so sweeping that it includes US air marshals and even prominent US senators. The department's inability to police its own ranks is sure to provide additional fodder for critics.

On Monday, Buchanan pleaded guilty to one count of insurance fraud. Additional coverage from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Praetorian Prefect is available here and here. ®

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