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State Department officer took bribes from musician Mavado for visa help

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Local,Crime,Music,Scott McCabe

A U.S. State Department law enforcement officer has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to help a "well-known" Jamaican musician gain a visa to enter the United States, federal prosecutors in Alexandria said.

David J. Rainsberger, an officer with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, admitted to unlawfully receiving watches worth thousands of dollars and other gifts while stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica.

Rainsberger also admitted to making false statements to the U.S. government on a national security questionnaire.

The 32-year-old faces a maximum penalty of seven years in prison when he is sentenced on April 19 but is likely to receive less than two years based on federal sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said.

In recent years, a number of Jamaican artists have been stripped of their U.S. visas, and the U.S. Embassy in Kingston has provided no reasons for its actions. The ban on the visas forced the Caribbean entertainment industry to scale back its shows in the U.S.

Some of the artists, such as Grammy-winner Beenie Man and Mavado, have since had their visas reinstated.

According to court records, Rainsberger served as an assistant regional security officer for investigations at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston from 2009 to 2011.

While there, Rainsberger became friends with a well-known Jamaican musician whose entry into the U.S. had been barred because of allegations of criminal conduct, prosecutors said. The musician was identified in court papers only by the initials D.B., but a law enforcement source confirmed to The Washington Examiner that the musician is Mavado, a top Jamaican performer whose real name is David Constantine Brooks.

This week, Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg, released a new video featuring Mavado called "Lighters Up" (see video embedded above).

Rainsberger conducted his own investigation into the allegations against Mavado in 2011, and subsequently reinstated the visa for the artist. That allowed Mavado to travel to the U.S. to take advantage of performance and recording opportunities.

In exchange for his assistance in obtaining a U.S. visa, the musician reportedly bought Rainsberger two luxury watches worth about $2,500.

Prosecutors said Rainsberger also received free admission to nightclubs, backstage passes and a birthday party hosted by Mavado.

At the same time, Rainsberger, who was already married, became engaged to a Jamaican woman and intentionally withheld the disclosure of the relationship from the U.S. government, prosecutors said.

Rainsberger also admitted to illegally accessing State Department visa and passport databases for personal purposes, prosecutors said.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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