Former Socorro Independent School District Trustee Sentenced to Federal Prison in El Paso Corruption Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 19, 2013|
In El Paso today, former Socorro Independent School District (ISD) Trustee Guillermo “Willie” Gandara, Sr. was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for using his influence with the school board to secure and retain lucrative health services contracts for ACCESS Health Source, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist.
United States District Judge Frank Montalvo also ordered that Gandara pay a $25,000, fine as well as $5,575.67 restitution to Socorro ISD. Furthermore, Judge Montalvo ordered that Gandara self–surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons designated facility on or before February 4, 2014, to begin serving his prison term.
“The sentence handed down today should reassure the public that we will be relentless in pursuing those public officials who violate their public trust for personal gain,” stated U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.
ACCESS, among other things, was a third-party administrator of health care benefits for self-insured entities. Between 1998 and 2007, ACCESS contracted with self-insured local (El Paso) government entities, including Socorro ISD, to provide administrative services for health insurance programs provided by their employer.
On July 22, 2013, Gandara pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. By pleading guilty, Gandara admitted that from 1998 until July 2007, he schemed to defraud the school district and deny the citizens of El Paso the right to honest services by their elected officials. Furthermore, Gandara admitted he knowingly aided and abetted former ACCESS CEO and President Frank Apodaca and others by performing acts in his official capacity that benefited ACCESS.
“Today’s sentencing of former SISD Trustee Guillermo Gandara, Sr. marks the final sentencing of 11 individuals who were entrusted to serve the citizens of Socorro and El Paso but instead used their positions and influence to promote their own personal interests. This sentencing is yet another reminder of the FBI’s continued commitment to pursue individuals who have violated the public’s confidence and hold them accountable, irrespective of status,” stated FBI Special Agent In Charge Douglas E. Lindquist.
This FBI investigation has resulted in 39 federal convictions—36 individuals who entered guilty pleas and three individuals who were convicted by juries.
Assistant United States Attorneys Debra Kanof and Jose Luis Gonzalez are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.