ACORN Employee Advises How To Smuggle Minors From Mexico Into US For Prostitution
3:08 AM, Sep 17, 2009
A national scandal involving a community advocacy group has made its way to San Diego, 10News reported.10News learned that the National City office for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was the target of a hidden camera sting by conservative activists.In the video, an ACORN employee gives filmmakers -- posing as a pimp and prostitute -- advice on smuggling 12 underage girls across the border from Mexico so they can be put to work in the sex trade. In another portion of the video the employee asks the prostitute how much she charges.Similar video stings have taken place in several cities including New York City and San Bernardino. In one video, the filmmakers, again posing as a prostitute and pimp, seek information on housing assistance so they can start a brothel and employ underage girls. An ACORN employee is heard giving advice and urging the pair to lie about their revenue to receive government help.Filmmaker James O'Keefe and his partner Hannah Giles visited the National City office in July, sources told 10News' Juliette Vara.David Lagstein of ACORN said what the pair did in a San Bernardino ACORN office is the same as what they did inside his office."They succeeded in tricking some people to say stupid comments but I can't comment on what happened here," Lagstein said.Lagstein's office is small. Only he and two other men work there and he would not tell 10News who the film crew spoke with, though the employee is identified in the video posted on YouTube.ACORN's stated mission is to assist people -- many of them inner-city residents -- with housing needs, tax relief and food stamps. However, as a result of the undercover video, the group cannot accept applications any longer and services are currently stalled."What we will do is refer them to community partners that can provide services," Lagstein told 10News.The U.S. Census Bureau has severed its relationship with ACORN and the Senate voted to deny Housing and Urban Development funding to the group."It's shocking, the level of corruption," said Ron Nehring, who chairs the California Republican Party.Nehring said he is outraged and is initiating another investigation immediately. "We will call for a forensic audit on all voter registration," he said.Lagstein said he isn't proud of the controversy. "Our goal is to be 100 percent perfect, and we are not," he said.Lagstein added that the organization as a whole is working to improve. However, some critics have said it is too late.ACORN's national office said it is "disturbed by what was seen in some of the videos and will do whatever it takes to re-establish trust."The following is a partial transcript of the video in which one of the National City ACORN workers -- identified as Juan Carlos Vera -- advises filmmakers how to smuggle underage girls from Mexico, as well as inquiring about the price of the services from the woman acting as a prostitute:
Filmmaker: Logistically, I mean, is it better if it's Tijuana, is it better if it's, um, somewhere inland? Where, where is the best place? Um, I'm not quite... there's like all these answers he wants right away.
ACORN Employee: It's better it's in Tijuana.
ACORN Employee: Yeah.
ACORN Employee: Because I have a lot of contacts in Tijuana.
Filmmaker: OK, and they might be able to assist crossing the border?
ACORN Employee: Yeah.
Filmmaker: OK, there's like 12 of them. Is that okay?
ACORN Employee: 12?
Female Filmmaker: 12 girls.
Filmmaker: There's 12 girls but they're like, they're like 13 to 15 years old.
ACORN Employee: Oh yeah?
ACORN Employee: I want to contact to you only right now for e-mail.
Filmmaker: Got it.
ACORN Employee: How much you charge... (inaudible)
Filmmaker: For her services?
Female Filmmaker: Well, for the entire weekend, I mean... (inaudible)
ACORN Employee: Are you gonna work for me... (inaudible)
Filmmaker: Are you a potential client?
ACORN Employee: No, no, no. I want to know what is it"It is clear it was taken completely out of context. It doesn't reflect at all the conversation. We are going to tell our side of the story, including the ACORN staff member seen in the video," said Lagstein told 10News.