A federal immigration agent was arrested in Philadelphia for stealing money from an undercover officer he believed was an illegal immigrant.

Justin Ford, 31, was caught in a sting set up by Philadelphia police and prosecutors after his bosses at the Department of Homeland Security began investigating him. 

“Agent Ford was willing to throw away his entire career for $200,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said. 

Ford came under suspicion after another prisoner he was tasked with transporting complained that money was missing, said Gregory Null, special agent-in-charge of the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general’s office. 

Surveillance tape of the illegal immigrant being checked into York County Prison, which houses immigration detainees, showed an agent putting something into his pockets. Null said both Ford and his partner were suspects at the time. 

Federal agents contacted police in Philadelphia, where Ford was based, looking for an undercover agent to use in the sting. Police say Ford’s partner left him alone with the undercover agent, who was carrying $2,000 in marked bills. The undercover agent pretended to speak only limited English when questioned about the cash and claimed he didn’t know how much he was carrying. When Ford returned the money to him, he did not return all of it, prosecutors say. 

“Clearly, Agent Ford saw him as an easy victim,” Williams said. 

Ford was taken into custody by SWAT officers when he returned to Philadelphia. Police say he admitted taking money from prisoners on two or three other occasions, and said his thefts totaled $750.

Ford was arrested on charges of official oppression, theft, and receiving stolen property. Bail was set at $25,000.