Former El Paso County Judge Indicted in Public Corruption Investigation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2011|
United States Attorney Robert Pitman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan announced that former El Paso County Judge Antonio Guillermo Cobos, a.k.a. Anthony Cobos, faces federal charges stemming from a “pay-to-play” scheme in the ongoing public corruption investigation.
A three-count indictment which was returned on December 14, 2011, and unsealed today–charges Cobos, age 44, and 61-year-old Lorenzo Hilario Aguilar with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and the deprivation of honest services; one count of mail fraud and the deprivation of honest services; and, one count of mail fraud.
The indictment alleges that during 2007, the defendants and others devised a fraudulent scheme which deprived the citizens of El Paso County of the intangible right to honest services of public officials. The indictment further alleges that Cobos accepted bribes in the form of cash money and other benefits, including campaign contributions to Cobos-supported individuals running for the El Paso City Council, in exchange for his vote and influence in refinancing approximately $40 million of El Paso County debt and to terminate the then El Paso County financial advisor’s contract and replace with another company.
“The citizens of El Paso County expect, and are entitled, to have their elected representatives make decisions on the basis of the merits of what they are voting on, not whether or how they can personally benefit. This indictment attempts to hold those who breach that trust accountable for their conduct,” stated United States Attorney Robert Pitman.
Each of the charges contained in the indictment call for up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine upon conviction.
“These indictments and arrests represent the FBI’s commitment to the citizens of El Paso that we will vigorously continue to investigate allegations of public corruption regarding elected or appointed public officials. The hard work and dedication of the El Paso FBI agents, professional staff, and U.S. Attorney’s Office is prevalent in today’s charges. The citizens of this community deserve to have a sense of confidence that their tax dollars are being spent honestly,” stated FBI Special Agent Mark Morgan.
This is the eighth indictment stemming from a large-scale FBI investigation which began in 2004. Assistant United States Attorneys William F. Lewis, Jr., and Juanita Fielden are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.