Indictments Detail Charges in Latest Public Corruption Investigation Arrests
POSTED: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 8:51pm
UPDATED: Monday, December 19, 2011 - 2:10pm
EL PASO - He's been denying criminal wrongdoing for years, but tonight, former El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos is in jail charged with mail fraud.
FBI agents arrested him and three others this morning in the ongoing public corruption investigation.
Anthony Cobos and the other three defendants made their first appearance in federal court this afternoon. They were handcuffed and dressed in blue jail jumpsuits as the judge read their charges.
There are two separate cases here. Let's begin with the first indictment.
Ruben "Sonny" Garcia and Cirilo Madrid are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and theft or embezzlement of federal program funds, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and the deprivation of honest services and mail fraud. The FBI says Garcia and Madrid fraudulently obtained $550,000 in federal funds from a program that helped mentally handicapped and emotionally disturbed children in the county.
Garcia owns LKG Enterprises and that company was awarded a contract in 2005 to evaluate the Border Children's Mental Health Collaborative but the feds say Garcia's company failed to provide the services it was being paid for. Madrid is the former CEO of Aliviane, an organization that educates people about substance abuse.
According to the indictment, they paid then-County Judge Delores Briones $2,000 per dollars a month for her support and vote.
“DB agreed to accept this sum of money from the defendants Garcia, Madrid and LKG and excercised her vote, support and influence as the County Judge of El Paso County, Texas, in favor of and to assist defendants Garcia, Madrid and LKG,” according to the indictment.
Briones is not charged in the indictment.
In the second case, the feds accuse Anthony Cobos of taking part in a "pay-to-play" scheme in 2007. Cobos and businessman Lorenzo Aguilar are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and deprivation of honest services and mail fraud.
“LORENZO HILARTO AGUILAR and others paid and agreed to pay bribes in the form of cash money and other benefits, and that ANTONIO GIJILLERMO COBOS a.k.a. Anthony Cobos agreed to accept and accepted bribes in the form of cash money and other benefits in exchange for his vote and influence,” according to court documents.
According to the indictment, Cobos accepted bribes in exchange for voting to refinance $40 million of El Paso county debt and to terminate the former county financial advisor's contract.
“ANTONIO GEJILLERMO COBOS a.k.a. Anthony Cobos wanted to terminate H.Z. as the Financial Advisor for the County because H.Z.' s father did not contribute to ANTONIO GUILLERMO COBOS a.k.a. Anthony Cobos' campaign for County Judge,” states the indictment.
Cobos then voted to hire another company. Aguilar is accused of giving Cobos bribes on behalf of that company.
Back in 2007 the feds raided Cobos' office and he's always denied any wrong doing.
"I've done nothing wrong. The commissioners court has acted honorably. We've only been in office for 4 months," he said at the time.
The judge granted bond to everyone but Cobos. He remains in jail tonight and has a bond hearing next week.
If convicted Cobos and Aguilar face up to 20 years for each charge in the three count indictment.
Madrid and Garcia could face even more time behind bars.