Poisoned Pawns Convicts and Named Individuals

pp_mugsOperation Poisoned Pawns is an FBI investigation into public corruption in El Paso Texas that began around 2004. The FBI nationally began focusing on public corruption cases around 2004 as it shifted its focus from terrorism after 9/11 towards political crimes. Several search warrants were served on El Paso officials on May 2007 at their county offices and at their homes. On June 8, 2007, Travis Ketner pleaded guilty to public corruption. From his plea, an “information” naming, via pseudonyms, nineteen individuals and two companies involved in “pay-to-play” schemes was made public. By April 2014 about 41 individuals had pleaded guilty or had been convicted of public corruption or had been named in the Ketner Information.

It is important to note that many of the court records continue to be sealed and therefore the information is incomplete. It is also difficult, at this point, to know which crimes were parts of the original Poisoned Pawns Operation and which ones were exposed as a result of the investigations. However, from a poster displayed by the FBI during a 2010 news conference it appears that the original investigation focused on Bob Jones and his two organizations; Access HealthSource and the National Center for Employment of the Disabled (NCED). From there, it appears that the investigation led to many instances of public corruption in El Paso. At this point, all we know is that an FBI agent was transferred from a narcotics task force in 2004 and his informants led to the start of the investigation now dubbed Poisoned Pawns Operation. We also know that numerous wire taps were authorized and used in the court proceedings.

We also know that in at least three instances it has been insinuated that federal investigators know about other instances of public corruption that have not been identified yet, and that at least one investigation continues. A January 2014 press release by the FBI states that the investigations continue. Also, during Willie Gandara’s (Sr.) sentencing in December 2013 it was revealed that he is cooperating with the FBI into another investigation of public corruption.

I have identified 12 criminal schemes that I believe derived from the original Poisoned Pawns Operation making a total of 13 crimes involving 41 individuals that have been identified so far. The list of crimes follows the list of individuals.

The following individuals have pleaded guilty, been convicted or have been named in the Travis Ketner information. They are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Lorenzo H. Aguilar (John CC-6) [M]
Crime key: 1 (see below)
Aguilar pleaded guilty to a single count on September 5, 2013. He was the intermediary funneling $4,500 in bribes to Anthony Cobos in the $40 million county bond-underwriting scheme. He was sentenced on January 3, 2014 to four years in prison plus three years of supervised release and a $50,000 fine. Lorenzo Aguilar is listed as an active principal in his family’s architectural firm Aguilar Enterprises, LLC. as of April 22, 2014. Also, as of April 22, 2014, Lorenzo Aguilar is listed as incarcerated at the USP Florence Penitentiary in Florence Colorado. His Register Number is 87331-280. His current release date is listed as August 5, 2017.

2. Francisco “Frank” Apodaca, Jr. [M] {Asking to appeal sentence}
Crime key: 2 (see below)
Apodaca was the former CEO of Access HealthSource. He pleaded guilty to bribing officials at the County, El Paso Independent School District, Socorro Independent School District and Ysleta School District from 1998 through 2007. Apodaca was sentenced to eight years in prison on November 6, 2013. In December 2013, Frank Apodaca filed court documents asking that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Apodaca states that his wife and attorneys forced him to plead guilty for crimes he did not commit. Frank Apodaca also states in his court filing that he cannot understand what he pleaded guilty to because of a brain injury. Frank Apodaca listed Ray Caballero and Eliot Shapleigh as personal references in a 2009 job resume. As of April 22, 2014, Apodaca is currently incarcerated at FCI Big Spring. His Register Number is: 65783-280. His expected release date is January 1, 2021.

3. Dolores Briones [F]
Crime key: 5 (see below)
Briones was sentenced on March 22, 2013 to two and a half years in prison for embezzlement from a federal program. She was also sentenced to three years supervised release plus $36,000 in restitution. She accepted $24,000 in bribe money for her support in keeping L.K.G. Enterprises, Inc. as the recipient of a $600,000 Border Children’s Mental Health Collaborative contract. The Border Children’s Mental Health Collaborative was funded by a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) federal grant. Briones was elected in 1998 as county judge. She took office in 1999. In July 2012, after pleading guilty and before being sentenced to prison, a letter by Briones’ friend Yolie Flores Aguilar surfaced where Flores-Aguilar pleaded for someone to give Briones a temporary job to allow her to collect unemployment checks. Flores-Aguilar wrote in her letter that Briones’ cancer was the reason Briones committed the crime. Briones also worked for the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization (EPISO) in 1984. Dolores Briones is the sister of senior US district judge, David Briones. As of April 22, Briones is incarcerated at Lexington FMC in Kentucky. Her expected release date is July 11, 2015. Her Register Number is: 87112-280.

4. Linda Chavez [F]
Crime key: 4 (see below)
Linda Chavez pleaded guilty to conspiring with Frank Apodaca, Luther Jones, Milton “Mickey” Duntley and Mark Schwartz for Access HealthSource to secure an Ysleta Independent School District health services contract. In September 2010, Linda Chavez resigned as a trustee of Ysleta Independent School District. Chavez also pleaded guilty to conspiring to secure a legal services contract for David Escobar and Luther Jones. Both guilty pleas were entered on July 13, 2012. On February 19, 2013, Linda Chavez was sentenced to five years probation and 30 days at a halfway house. She was also ordered to pay $9,000 in restitution. {Note: husband is named Alfredo Chavez}

5. Anthony Cobos (John CC-5) [M]
Crime key: 1 (see below)
In January 2007, Anthony Cobos was sworn in as the County Judge, after serving as a city representative from 2001 through 2005. Cobos pleaded guilty on September 3, 2013 for accepting a bribe in the 2007 $40 million county bond-refinancing scheme. He accepted $4,500 in bribes from Roberto “Bobby” Ruiz, Christopher Col-Su Pac (Chris Pak) and Raymond Telles that was funneled through Lorenzo H. Aguilar and Antonio “Tony” Dill. He was sentenced on January 3, 2014 to four years in prison plus three years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine. During sentencing, Anthony Cobos told the court that for many years he had suffered from alcoholism and had used marihuana in an attempt to reduce his sentence through a prison alcohol treatment program. Cobos was arrested on January 30, 2014 on an arrest warrant for fraud involving real estate property in New Mexico that he sold to a couple. Accorindg to the arrest warrant, Cobos did not have the authority to sell the property. As of April 22, 2014, Cobos is listed as incarcerated at Fort Worth FCI. He is listed under his legal name: Antonio Guillermo Cobos. His Register Number is: 87328-280.

6. Carlos Cordova [M]
Crime key: 8 (see below)
Cordova pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe on November 28, 2007. The court records remain sealed and at this point, all we know is that an unknown vendor for the El Paso Independent School District bribed Cordova. According to the redacted guilty plea transcripts, Carlos Cordova’s crime of bribery began in 1995. He accepted $5,000 in bribes. According to the guilty plea hearing transcripts, Carlos Cordova was recorded by a wiretap on January 23 and on February 7th and the 15th, both in 2007. After his arrest, Cordova asked that the name of the Middle School named after him be changed. It was renamed to Judge Albert Armendariz Sr. Middle School in August 2008. Before being elected a trustee for the El Paso Independent School District, Carlos Cordova was a teacher, a coach and an administrator at the school district. On March 30, 2012, Cordova was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay a $140,000 fine.

7. James D. “Jim” Dannenbaum (John CC-9) [M]
Crime key: 3 (see below)
Dannenbaum is the chairman of Houston based Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation who is active in Republican politics. In October 2007, he was appointed by Rick Perry to the University of Texas System Board of Regents. Dannenbaum was not indicted in the El Paso corruption scandals. Anthony Cobos and Miguel Teran accepted political contributions from him in 2007. Both received $2,000 from Dannenbaum. The Ketner Information alleges that Arturo “Tury” Duran acted as the “bagman” between Dannenbaum and Cobos and Teran. The campaign contributions have been characterized as “bribes disguised as campaign contributions”. The link between Duran and Dannenbaum appears to be Duran listing Dannenbaum Engineering as a partner to Duran’s Mega Services company on two contract proposals for government work. No charges were filed against James Dannenbaum or Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation.

8. Antonio “Tony” Dill [M]
Crime key: 1 (see below)
Tony Dill was the spokesperson for Larry Francis when Ray Caballero defeated Francis for the mayor’s office in 2001. Tony Dill has been characterized by various media outlets as a “political consultant”, or “lobbyist”. During his sentencing hearing, it was revealed that Dill gave prosecutors information about an unnamed organization that was created by construction company officials to bribe government officials for construction work. To date no acknowledgment of an investigation into this information has been revealed to the public. On January 8, 2014, Dill was sentenced to 10 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in fines. He had previously pleaded guilty to accepting a $1,500 cash bribe that he then gave to Anthony Cobos for his support of the $40 million county debt-refinancing scheme. The scheme involved funneling bribes from Roberto “Bobby” Ruiz to Dill and then on to Anthony Cobos. Dill was paid $1,500 by Ruiz to make the introduction to Cobos. Dill is currently incarcerated at Tucson USP and has an expected release date of December 2, 2014. His Register Number is 14441-280.

9. Milton “Mickey” Duntley [M]
Crime key: 4 (see below)
Mickey Duntley was the spokesperson for the El Paso Police Department Crimestoppers Program. He was also a former El Paso police officer. Duntley was one of three individuals in the June 2007 lawyer controversy in which Mary Stillinger was disqualified from representing three individuals due to a conflict of interest assertion. The other two individuals were Charles Roarke and Ernie Lopez. On July 19, 2012, Duntley pleaded guilty to bribery in the Access HealthSource crime. On February 19, 2013, Milton “Mickey” Duntley was sentenced to three years and five months in prison plus three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution, $20,000 of which he paid on the day he was sentenced. As of April 22, 2014, Duntley is listed as incarcerated at Big Spring FCI. He has an expected release date of February 8, 2016. His Register Number is: 65786-280.

10. Arturo “Tury” Duran (CC-7) [M]
Crime key: 3 (see below)
Duran was named in the Ketner information as the “bagman” between Valley Risk Consulting and Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation and Anthony Cobos for county work. According to court documents, Duran allegedly gave Cobos $2,000 in cash as a campaign contribution in the county judge’s bathroom. Rogelio “Roger” Garza and a representative of Dannenbaum were also present. Arturo Duran was appointed as the head of the International Boundary and Water Commission in January 2004 by George W. Bush. He was forced out 20 months later under a cloud of controversy. When Duran was identified in the Ketner Information, he retained Luis Aguilar as his attorney. Duran has not been charged.

11. David Escobar (John CC-2) [M]
Crime key: 4 (see below)
On February 19, 2013, Escobar was sentenced to prison for three years plus five months. Escobar was ordered to pay $52,000 in fines and restitution. Escobar was involved in the Access HealthSource crime. Escobar was also involved in bribing Milton “Mickey” Duntley along with Luther Jones for an Ysleta Independent School District legal contract to a law firm selected by Luther Jones which would pay Escobar and Jones a cut of the earnings of the legal firm. The Texas Supreme Court (Docket no: 13-9044) published an order accepting Escobar’s “Resignation as Attorney and Counselor at Law in Lieu of Disciplinary Action” on April 15, 2013. David Escobar is related to Veronica Escobar. As of April 22, 2014, Escobar is listed as incarcerated at Beaumont USP. His expected release date is: May 31, 2015.

12. Elizabeth “Betti” Flores (Jane CC-2) [F]
Crime key: 1 and 9 (see below)
Flores assumed office as a county commissioner on January 1, 2003. According to the information made public when she pleaded guilty on July 7, 2007, she accepted bribes for her support of the Access HealthSource contract. The bribes were disguised as “campaign contributions”. She also pleaded guilty for her part in a county refinancing bond. Although the information is unclear it seems to be part of the $40 million county bond refinancing scheme, although the information also mentions a Thomason bond contract. In November 21, 2005, the county commissioners voted on a $120 million bond project for Thomason. The bond underwriters were UBS and Bear Stearns. Bear Stearns has been linked to the $40 million bribery scheme. Flores also pleaded guilty to accepting $10,000 in exchange for a $20 million El Paso County Parking Garage Annex vote. On February 7, 2005, Flores made a motion at the county commissioners meeting of that day to accept CF Jordan change orders for the garage project. Again, on June 12, 2006, Flores again made a motion, seconded by Dolores Briones to approve change orders for the garage project. In another case, Flores pleaded guilty to exchanging her vote for the resolution of her 2005 misdemeanor case to filing late or incomplete financial disclosure reports. Ketner claimed that Flores conspired to have her case dismissed in exchange for her vote on an El Paso Sheriff’s overtime controversy before the county commissioners. She also pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in the county digitizing project related to Luther Jones and Gilbert Sanchez. In July 2012, Betti Flores testified for the prosecution against Luther Jones and Gilbert Sanchez. On December 13, 3013, Elizabeth Flores was sentenced to five years of probation and a $25,000 fine.

13. Tomas Gabaldon [M]
Crime key: 11 (see below)
In December 2011, Tomas Gabaldon pleaded guilty to accepting bribes for the Strategic Government Solutions scheme for special education software and Medicare reimbursement contract. In 2003, Gabaldon began work as the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) superintendent for special education. He resigned in 2005. According to court documents, Gabaldon received $100,000 in bribe money in exchange for his support of Strategic Governmental Solutions, Inc. In 2008, Gabaldo was hired by the Albuquerque School District as late as 2011. On August 22, 2012, Gabaldon was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay $2 million in restitution. As of April 22, 2014, Gabaldon is incarcerated at Fort Worth FCI. His expected release date is March 26, 2016. His Register Number is 68310-280.

14. Jose Alfredo Gallegos [M]
Crime key: 12 (see below)
On April 20, 2011, Gallegos was sentenced to 2 years in prison for bribing Sal Mena. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. He had pleaded guilty in December 2010 to paying an El Paso Independent School District trustee, Mena, $13,000 in bribes. His coconspirator was Adrian Edward Peña. Gallegos owned Quest, a small construction subcontractor for VistaCon. VistaCon was contracted by EPISD to work on a $19 million contract to build Hut Middle School. VistaCon was searched by FBI agents on October 2010. You can read a detailed report on the VistaCon’s involvement with EPISD on my blog post “The Anatomy of the Corruption Con Job”. Gallegos is incarcerated at Beaumont Medium FCI. His expected release date is February 27, 2015. His Register Number is 58551-280.

15. Guillermo “Willie” Gandara, Sr. [M]
Crime key: 11 (see below)
Gandara is a former mayor of Socorro. On July 22, 2013, Gandara pleaded guilty to accepting $1,000 in 2006 in bribes from Marc Schwartz to help Access HealthSource keep its health services contract with Socorro Independent School District. On December 20, 2012, Gandara was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and $5,575 in restitution. During his sentencing hearing it was revealed that Gandara was cooperating with federal investigators looking into other public corruption cases. Gandara is incarcerated at La Tuna FCI and is expected to be released on February 19, 2017. His Register Number is: 65781-280. In February 2012, Gandara’s son, Guillermo “Willie” Gandara, Jr. (90540-280 Big Spring FCI July 4, 2018) was arrested at Sierra Blanca on drug charges. The son is also a former mayor or Socorro and was a county commissioner when he was arrested for narcotics. Gandara Jr., was sentenced to six and a half years, plus a $300,000 fine on November 14, 2012.

16. Charlie Garcia [M]
Crime key: 4 (see below)
On August 22, 2012, Garcia pleaded guilty to bribery in the Access HealthSource scheme. He was a Socorro School District trustee when he accepted bribes from Access. He became a trustee in May 2005. In October 2013, Garcia was sentenced to seven months in prison for bribery in the Access HealthSource scheme. He was also ordered to pay $20,000 in fines and $5,575 in restitution.

17. Lorenzo Garcia [M]
Crime key: 7 and 13 (see below)
On February 2006, Garcia was appointed superintendent of EPISD. In October 2009, Bowie High School counselor Patricia Scott alleged that 77 students were held back to avoid having them take accountability tests. In January 2010, Eliot Shapleigh accused El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) superintendent Lorenzo Garcia of disappearing students in order to meet student standards at the school district. A few days later, Garcia organized student protests denouncing Shapleigh’s accusations. In August 2011, Garcia was arrested by FBI agents at the school district’s headquarters. On October 5, 2012, Garcia was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for disappearing students in order for the district to meet accountability standards and for steering a substantial contract to his mistress. He was also ordered to pay $180,000 in restitution and a $56,500 fine. In December 2013, it was revealed that Garcia’s prison sentence was reduced by 11 months because he had successfully completed a prison drug counseling program. As of April 22, 2014, Garcia is incarcerated at Lewisburg USP. His expected release date is November 1, 2014, after his drug counseling sentence reduction.

18. Ruben “Sonny” Garcia (CC-15) [M]
Crime key: 5 (see below)
Garcia is the former owner of L.K.G. Enterprises, the company that was paid about $600,000 for the Border Children’s Mental Health Collaborative. Dolores Briones and Cirilo “Chilo” Madrid were part of the fraud. On July 10, 2012, Garcia pleaded guilty to embezzling a federal program. He and Madrid paid Dolores Briones $24,000 in bribes. On March 22, 2013, Garcia was sentenced to four years in prison followed with three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to $1.1 million in restitution, divided evenly between his company L.K.G. Enterprises, Inc. and himself. Garcia is incarcerated at Tucson USP. His expected release date is wrong on the Federal Bureau of Prisons as it listed his expected release date to be December 12, 2029 on April 27, 2014. His Register Number is: 11744-280.

19. Rogelio “Roger” Garza (John CC-8) [M]
Crime key: 3 (see below)
The Ketner Information alleges that Garza was present, along with an individual from Dannenbaum Engineering in Anthony Cobos’ office where Arturo “Tuty” Duran allegedly offered Cobos bribes to secure county work for Dannenbaum Engineering and Valley Risk Consulting. Roger Garza established Valley Risk Consulting in 2004. Rogelio Garza has not been charged with any a crime as result of this investigation.

20. Martie Georges Jobe (Jane CC-1) [F]
Crime key: 10 (see below)
Martie Jobe was identified as one of the individuals named in the Ketner Information. She was never charged with any wrongdoing. Jobe testified in the county digitizing contract trial. Martie Jobe served as county commissioner until 1991. Luther Jones was the county judge at the time. In 2009, Martie Jobe self-published a book on business defense strategy titled; “Business Law Battle Plan for Entrepreneurs: Protect Your Company from Lawyers, Lawsuits and Legal Disasters”. Martie Jobe is married to El Paso businessman Stanley Pruet Jobe, who was pardoned by Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001. In 1994, Stanley Jobe was convicted on a check-kiting scheme.

21. Bob Jones [M]
Crime key: 2 and 4 (see below)
Bob Jones was arrested on October 14, 2008 for fraud against the federal government. On July 2, 2009, Jones pleaded guilty to various charges. In February 17, 2011 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and assessed a $65 million fine and restitution. As of April 22, 2014 he is listed as incarcerated at FCI Fort Worth. His expected release date is November 2, 2019. His Register Number is: 16434-280. Bob Moore, of the El Paso Times occasionally publishes “life in prison” letters from Bob Jones in the local paper.

22. Luther Edward Jones (John CC-1) [M]
Crime key: 4, 6 and 10 (see below)
Contrary to much speculation, the FBI Poisoned Pawns Operation did not originally target Luther Jones, according to an FBI statement after Jones’ conviction in 2011. Jones came to the attention of the FBI as the investigation progressed. Luther Jones was a Texas House of Representative from 1973 through January 1981. In 1986 Jones was elected as county judge. He left in December 1990, after losing reelection to Alicia Chacon. On April 20, 2011, Luther Jones was found guilty on two counts for the digitizing contract. He was immediately remanded to jail. He was found guilty of bribing Betti Flores for the digitizing contract and for conspiring to ensure the contract was awarded to his client Altep. On August 2011, Jones was sentenced to six years for each of the two counts in the digitizing contract scheme. The sentences are to be served concurrently. On August 24, 2012, Jones was sentenced to five years in prison, to be served concurrently with the six year sentence for his part in the Access HealthSource bribery scheme. He had pleaded guilty earlier to the charges. During his sentencing hearing for the Access fraud, the prosecutors alleged that Jones had a Swiss account. According to the court records, Jones had spent $300,000 of his money on his defense for the digitizing contract and had three properties left to his name, some land in Culberson County and two condominiums. In September 2012, Jones agreed to pay $250,000 in restitution to Ysleta Independent School District. On March 2013, the Texas State Bar disbarred Luther Jones. As of April 22, 2014, Luther Jones is listed as being incarcerated at Florence ADMAX USP in Colorado. His expected release date is July 9, 2015. His Register Number is 47214-280.

23. Travis Ketner [M]
In 2007, Travis Ketner pleaded guilty to four counts of bribery. The Ketner Information derived from this court proceeding. Ketner is now a practicing attorney in San Antonio.

24. Gary Lange [M]
Crime key: 11 (see below)
On October 16, Gary Lange to two years in prison for bribing Tomas Gabaldon and Sal Mena for the Strategic Governmental Solutions, Inc. contract with the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD). Lange was ordered to pay $2.89 million in restitution. Lange conspired with his business partner Joseph O’Hara to bribe the EPISD officials. Lange is incarcerated at Terre Haute FCI. His Register Number is: 07134-040. He is expected to be released on October 3, 2015.

25. Ernesto “Ernie” Alonzo Lopez [M]
Crime key: 2 (see below)
In October 2008, Lopez, Bob Jones and Patrick Woods were arrested by the FBI. On October 18, 2010, Lopez was found guilty for his part in the National Center for Employment of the Disabled (NCED) fraud on federal funds. On March 29, 2011, Lopez was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $4 million in restitution. Lopez was released on December 10, 2013. His Register Number is: 16440-280.

26. Cirilo “Chilo” Lara Madrid [M]
Crime key: 5 (see below)
On April 15, 2013, Cirilo Madrid was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the LKG conspiracy. Madrid was also ordered to pay $100,000 in fines and $550,000 in restitution to SAMHSA. He was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release. On December 14, 2012, Chilo Madrid was convicted of one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a federal program. Along with Ruben “Sonny” Garcia, Madrid bribed Dolores Briones with $24,000 for a county contract worth about $600,000. Madrid also submitted a required report that he admitted to plagiarizing from the Internet. Chilo Madrid started working at Aliviane, Inc. on May 1980. Madrid also claimed a doctorate degree from a Wyoming diploma mill. In 2007, during the height of the El Paso Housing Authority controversies it was revealed that Jaime Rubinstein, at the time a HACEP commissioner, worked for Madrid’s New Beginnings just prior to HACEP issuing a controversial contract to Aliviane for about $300,000. Madrid resigned as CEO of Aliviane on December 2012.

27. Larry Medina [M]
Crime key: 4 (see below)
On February 19, 2013, Larry Medina was sentenced to one year and four months in prison for his role in the AccessHealth conspiracy. Medina was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and $56,700.42 in restitution. In 1997, Medina was elected a city representative and left in 2003. Medina is no stranger to controversy. In 1999, he was detained at a Circle K for attempting to buy liquor after hours. In 2001, Larry Medina was involved in an aircraft crash in the Chihuahua desert on June 2001. He was returning from a fishing trip to Guaymas Mexico. The aircraft suffered an electrical failure and made an emergency landing a dry lakebed in Chihuahua. On board the aircraft with Medina were then county commissioner Carlos Aguilar, then Canutillo school district trustee Carl Frietz and architects Morris Brown and Sergio Martinez. Mark Rasmussen was the pilot. Charles “Cheater” Bella found Brown and Rasmussen near the aircraft. Medina had wondered away from the crash site and was later found in a hut where he left a $100 bill, according to him, for using the hut to wait to be rescued. Larry Medina was a commissioner of the city’s Civil Service Commission as well as a commissioner for the El Paso Housing Authority (HACEP). Larry Medina was released from prison on January 2014 into a halfway house. He was released from custody on April 16, 2014. His Register Number is: 65787-280.

28. Salvador “Sal” Mena [M]
Crime key: 12 (see below)
On December 16, 2013, Sal Mena was sentenced to three years in prison for accepting more than $176,000 in cash bribes while a trustee at the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD). Mena has been linked to the Strategic Governmental Solutions bribery scheme, from which he received $5,000 in bribes. Mena was also ordered to forfeit $176,455 and was placed on three years probation after his release. During his sentencing, the judge ordered that Sal Mena be placed in suicide watch. Mena was also admonished by the judge to reveal everything he knew about public corruption insinuating that Mena has more information about public corruption that he has not revealed. As of April 22, 2014, Mena is listed as being incarcerated at La Tuna FCI with a release date of July 12, 2016. His Register Number is: 15616-280

29. Victor Inoceni Mendez [M]
Crime key: 12 (see below)
Victor Mendez was a CF Jordan sub-contractor who, according to an unrelated court case, met with Paul Bauer, Executive Vice-President of CF Jordan and Adrian Peña, an employee of Bauer. At the meeting, Paul Bauer told Victor Mendez that CF Jordan was “trying to get” their “foot in the door with” EPISD. From that meeting, Mendez introduced Adrian Peña to Sal Mena. On September 3, 2010, victor Mendez pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to offer Sal Mena two bribes, one for $7,000 and another for $13,000 in August 2005. On January 2012, Victor Mendez was sentenced to one year plus a day in jail. He was also fined $100,000. Mendez was released from jail on January 15, 2013. His Register Number is: 64791-280.

30. Joseph O’Hara [M]
Crime key: 11 (see below)
On July 31, 2013, O’Hara was sentenced to three year in prison for bribing Tomas Gabaldon and Sal Mena in order to keep a lucrative contract with EPISD to provide software to the special education department of EPISD. O’Hara’s company never provided working software to the school district. O’Hara’s company was also required to provide services for to obtain federal and state reimbursement funds for special education programs. These schemes also involved his partner, Gary Lange. O’Hara’s company was Strategic Government Solutions, Inc. In addition to the prison term, O’Hara was order to pay restitution of $2.89 million to EPISD. As of April 22, 2014, O’Hara is listed as incarcerated at Brooklyn MDC with an expected release date of July 12, 2016. His Register Number is: 18681-052.

31. Christopher Chol-Su Pak aka Chris Pak (John CC-11) [M]
Crime key: 1 (see below)
Chris Pak was sentenced on December 16, 2013 to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine for helping Roberto “Bobby” Ruiz carry out the bribery for the $40 million county debt refinancing scheme.

32. Fernando Parra (John CC-4) [M]
Crime key: 10 (see below)
Parra started working for Gilbert Sanchez on January 31, 2003. He worked closely with Luther Jones on numerous political campaigns compiling and maintaining computerized voter records. Parra was identified as the individual who compiled and put together a bid package favoring Altep for the digitizing contract. During the June 2012 trial against Luther Jones and Gilbert Sanchez, Parra testified that Jones and Sanchez were involved in “shady deals”. On December 13, 2013, Parra was sentenced to time served and was put on a one year unsupervised type of federal probation.

33. Adrian Peña [M]
Crime key: 8, 9 and 12 (see below)
In December 2010, pleaded guilty to bribing Elizabeth “Betti” Flores by offering to remodel her home and then, in lieu of that paid her $10,000 in two payments after Flores voted to pay CF Jordan’s invoice of $382,158 for county work. He also pleaded guilty to bribing Sal Mena with $13,000, along with Jose Alfredo Gallegos, for his support on securing contracts from EPISD. On May 20, 2011, Adrian Peña was sentenced to six years plus four months in prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $250,000. Peña worked for CF Jordan throughout this time. Adrian Peña was released from jail on July 19, 2013 after his guilty plea was vacated by the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals in May. His plea was vacated because Peña argued that the judge had improperly interfered in plea negotiations in another case he was involved in. Peña and his wife were indicted in a federal case involving Peña’s wife’s company SDVO in May 2013. Both cases are pending. His Register Number is: 48597-280.

34. Raymundo “Ray” Rodriguez [M]
Crime key: 4 (see below)
Rodriguez was a former mayor of Socorro and a trustee at Socorro Independent School District. On July 19, 2012, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to bribery in the Access HealthSource scheme. In October 2013, Rodriguez was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay $20,000 in fines and $5,575 in restitution. Rodriguez was released from prison on January 28, 2014. His Register Number is: 65779-280.

35. Roberto “Bobby” Gerardo Ruiz (John CC-10) [M]
Crime key: 1 (see below)
In December 2007, Ruiz had pleaded guilty to bribery. He bribed officials at the city, the county, EPISD and El Paso Community College from June 1992 through November 2, 2007. Ruiz was employed by Bear Stearns during this time. On December 3, 2013, Ruiz was sentenced to two years in prison. He was also ordered to pay a $175,000 fine. Ruiz is incarcerated at El Reno FCI. His expected release date is October 3, 2015. His Register Number is: 09948-280.

36. Gilbert Sanchez (John CC-3) [M]
Crime key: 4 and 10 (see below)
Luther Jones helped Gilbert Sanchez win his election as district clerk in 2002. Sanchez assumed the office on January 1, 2003. He was the district clerk until he lost reelection in 2010. Sanchez hired Fernando Parra as an office manager soon after assuming office. On April 20, 2011, Luther Jones was found guilty on two counts for the digitizing contract. He was immediately remanded to jail. On August 2011, Gilbert Sanchez was sentenced to six years for each of the two counts in the digitizing contract scheme. The sentences are to be served concurrently. On August 24, 2012, Sanchez was sentenced to two years in prison, to be served concurrently with the six year sentence for his part in the Access HealthSource bribery scheme. He had pleaded guilty earlier to the charges. Sanchez was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution. As of April 22, 2014, Gilbert Sanchez is listed as being incarcerated at Fort Worth FCI. His expected release date is July 10, 2016. His Register Number is: 47213-280.

37. Luis Sariñana (John CC-13) [M]
Although named in the Ketner Information, Luis Sariñana was never charged in the public corruption investigations with any wrongdoing. In 2008, Sariñana lost his County Commissioner Precinct 1 seat to Anna Perez in 2008. Sariñana had served as a city representative for eight years before being elected to his only term to the county commissioners.

38. Marc Schwartz [M]
Crime key: 2 and 4 (see below)
On July 13, 2012, Schwartz pleaded guilty to conspiring with Frank Apodaca, Luther Jones and Robert “Bob” Jones to pay bribes to Dolores Briones, Milton “Mickey” Duntley, Elizabeth “Betti” Flores, Larry Medina and Salvador “Sal” Mena for contracts to Access. Marc Schwartz was sentenced to eight years in prison on November 6, 2013 as part of the conspiracy with Access HealthSource. Schwartz was the public relations individual for Access, NCED and Sahara. Marc Schwartz was hired by the Tigua Indian Tribe, officially known as the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, in 1999 as their public relations individual. The Tigua’s had opened Speaking Rock Casino in 1993 and by 1999; the State of Texas was looking to end gambling in Indian reservations. On February 6, 2002, Marc Schwartz arranged a meeting between the tribe and Jack Abramoff. The Tigua’s ended up paying Abramoff and Michael Scanlon $4.2 million dollars as part of the Abramoff-Scanlon lobbying scheme. It is important to remember that during Larry Medina’s sentencing hearing it was revealed that a telephone tap between Schwartz and Medina exists where Schwartz thanks Larry Medina for work he did while Medina was at city council. No one at the city has been implicated in the public corruption investigations. As of April 22, 2014, Marc Schwartz is listed as being incarcerated at El Reno FCI in Oklahoma. His expected release date is December 6, 2020. His Register Number is: 65780-280

39. Raymond Rutherford Telles (John CC-12) [M]
Crime key: 1 and 4 (see below)
Telles pleaded guilty in 2008 for his part in bribing Socorro Independent School District officials in regards to Access HealthSource and the $40 million county refinancing scheme. On December 3, 2013, Raymond Telles was sentenced to five years probation for his involvement in the bribery schemes. Telles was also ordered to pay a $4,000 fine. Telles, a former city council member (1993-1997) also relinquished his law license.

40. Miguel Teran (CC-14) [M]
Miguel Teran’s county office was one of the three offices searched by the FBI in May 2007. His home was also searched the same day. On December 26, 2007, Teran announced that he would not seek re-election to his county commissioner’s seat. Teran assumed the seat on January 1, 1997 and left office on December 31, 2008. Teran has not been charged with any crime.

41. Patrick Woods [M]
Crime key: 2 (see below)
On September 3, 2010, Patrick Woods pleaded guilty to guilty to embezzlement of federal program funds in relation to the NCED conspiracy. He was a former board member of NCED. On February 17, 2011, Woods to three years in prison plus three years of supervised release. Woods was ordered to pay $1,714,138.69 in restitution. Woods had pleaded guilty to misapplying federal funds as part of the NCED conspiracy. Patrick Woods was released on August 26, 2013. His Register Number is: 16401-280.

The Crimes:
1. A 2007 $40 million county bond underwriting scheme where the conspirators attempted to terminate a county refinancing bond contract with First Southwest and give it to Bear Stearns. The crime began on January 1, 2007 and continued through the end of 2007, according to the indictment filed against Aguilar and Cobos.

2. A fraud perpetuated against the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Program by NCED. Bob Jones did not use the required number of disabled employees to perform the federal no-bid work awarded to him under the program.

3. An alleged bribery conspiracy by two companies who were looking for future county work. The two named companies in the Ketner Information were Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation and Valley Risk Consulting.

4. Access HealthSource bribery for lucrative 3rd party health insurance management contracts. This scheme involved Francisco “Frank” Apodaca, Jr., Marc Schwartz, Luther Edward Jones, Gilbert Sanchez, David Escobar, Linda Chavez, Milton “Mickey” Duntley, Guillermo “Willie” Gandara, Sr., Charles “Charlie” Garcia, Raymond “Ray” Rodriguez and Larry Medina. This indictment was announced on September 2, 2010. Access was owned by Robert “Bob” Jones until 2004 when he sold it. Nonetheless, Jones still had a financial interest in Access and therefore stood to benefit from its various contracts with government entities.

5. The Border Children’s Mental Health Collaborative scheme involved Dolores Briones, Cirilo “Chilo” Madrid and Ruben “Sonny” Garcia. In this fraud, L.K.G. Enterprises, Inc. owned by Garcia received a county contract for about $600,000 on November 2005 to provide evaluation services for The Border Children’s Mental Health Collaborative. Madrid, who was CEO of another non-profit named Aliviane, received about $100,000 from LKG for plagiarizing a required report that was never properly completed. Between 2001 and 2008, LKG was paid about $680,000 by Madrid’s Aliviane. In this scheme, Dolores Briones was bribed with $24,000 over a year to keep the LKG contract in place. The Border Children’s Mental Health Collaborative’s name was changed to the El Paso County Department of Mental Health Support Services by the county commissioner’s in January 2012. The entity now has a budget of over $1 million from federal and state grants.

6. Legal services contract from Ysleta Independent School district for a law firm that paid David Escobar and Luther Jones kickbacks from the fees it generated from Ysleta.

7. Infinity Resources…& Associates was a company based in Houston, owned and operated by Tracy Rose (Ledford), a friend of Lorenzo Garcia. On July 11, 2006, the El Paso Independent School District approved a sole-source vendor contract with the company for $450,000. The company received two payments from EPISD for $180,000 each, one on August 4 and another on August 18, 2006. The contract was for providing “specialized data-driven materials to help boost math scores” for math materials and staff development. In a July 11, 2006 affidavit submitted by Tracy Rose, she asserted that her company was the only company capable of providing the services required in the contract, making her the sole-source and avoiding the required competitive bidding by government entities.

8. It is unclear at this point whether the bribes given to Carlos Cordova for his support by an unknown vendor to the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) was part of one of these crimes or if it was a separate crime. For now I am working on under the assumption that this crime involved a vendor that has yet to be identified. It is possible that this crime is the same as the one involving Sal Mena and Jose Gallegos and his coconspirator Adrian Peña. For now I am keeping both separate.

9. A 2004 El Paso County Parking Garage Annex contract worth $20 million. The Flores information states that Flores accepted a $10,000 bribe for supporting the award of the contract and for subsequent change orders. Although the information does not provide names, the contractor on the garage project was CF Jordan. On September 14, 2009, CF Jordan executive, Paul Bauer issued a statement where he acknowledged that CF Jordan was the contractor on the county garage project however he denied his company had done any wrongdoing. Bauer also acknowledged that Adrian Edward Peña was an employee of the CF Jordan.

10. A 2003 county district clerk’s office digitizing contract that was never awarded. Altep, with the help of Luther Jones, Fernando Parra and Gilbert Sanchez conspired to fund a $10 million county project to digitize the county district clerk’s records. The County district clerk manages the county’s court documents including birth, death, marriage certificates as well as court documents. It also assigns judges using a “wheel system” to court cases. Altep contracted Luther Jones in 2004 to help them get county work. Fernando Parra, working at county for Gilbert Sanchez, created and managed the specifications for issuing the digitizing contract. On June 7, 2004, while the project was being discussed at the county commissioners’ meeting to award the contract, a county attorney noticed that someone, identified as “Jones’ partner” in court documents had a copy of the spreadsheet that detailed the bidders of the project. This spreadsheet should not have been given to anyone in order to ensure the integrity of the bid process. Because of this, the county attorney asked the county commissioners to reject the bids, and the county commissioners did so, closing the process. Court documents cite that there was an attempt to bring back the digitizing contract however, according to testimony from Fernando Parra that ceased in July 2007 after Elizabeth “Betti” Flores pleaded guilty.

11. Between 2003 and 2007, Strategic Government Solutions received $4.3 million for El Paso Independent School District to provide special education software and Medicare reimbursement for special education services to EPISD. This scheme is tied to Tomas Gabaldon, Gary Lange, Sal Mena and Joseph O’Hara.
12. A bribery scheme involving the $19 million Hut Middle School and VistaCon. Jose Alfredo Gallegos pleaded guilty to bribing Sal Mena for construction work at EPISD.
13. A conspiracy by Lorenzo Garcia to “disappear” in order for El Paso Independent School District to meet national accountability standards.

The Companies:
1. 3DI-P
2. Access HealthSource [AccessHealth, Inc.]
3. Aliviane, Inc.
4. Bear Sterns
5. CF Jordan
6. Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation (DC)
7. L.K.G. Enterprises, Inc.
8. Mega Services
9. National Center for Employment of the Disabled (NCED)
10. Quest
11. Sahara
12. Strategic Government Solutions, Inc.
13. Valley Risk Consulting (VRC)
14. VistaCon

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