A Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves from Florida appeared in court Friday on criminal charges brought forth by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that he was involved in a bribery scheme aimed at securing special visas for Afghan nationals.

Jeromy Pittmann, a 53-year-old from Pensacola, Florida, is now living in Naples, Italy. Court documents say he was paid by Afghan citizens to “draft, submit, or falsely verify” recommendation letters for those seeking Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) through the U.S. Department of State, according to a DOJ press release.

SIVs are in a limited supply and given to Afghans serving as translators for personnel in the U.S. military. The Department of Defense notably released a report last month acknowledging that the National Counter-Terrorism Center did not properly vet Afghan evacuees amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan — with about 34,500 SIVs being given to Afghans since 2014, the report noted. The defense department said it does “not have a role in enrolling, screening, or overseeing” parolees being housed at temporary housing facilities in the U.S.

Pittmann faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly accepting bribes and conspiring to commit visa fraud. It is alleged that he signed and authorized more than 20 fraudulent letters claiming that he “supervised” Afghan applicants for SIVs while they were translators for NATO and the U.S. Army.

He allegedly received thousands of dollars in return for such authorization, putting forth that “the applicants’ lives were in jeopardy because the Taliban considered them to be traitors; and that he did not think the applicants posed a threat to the national security of the United States.”

The case is being investigated by SIGAR, which is the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

The U.S. Navy did not immediately respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment.

report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in August 2021 provided evidence of the Biden administration’s failures to manage SIV applicants and reduce fraud. FAIR’s report cited government data showing 84% of SIV applicants were found ineligible during the first three months of 2021.

The state department had notably said Afghan SIV application fraud was “relatively high compared to other countries and programs,” underscored by as many as 200,000 Afghans being demanded U.S. admission by activists, with 50,000 unvetted, according to the FAIR report.

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