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Dec. 1, 2010

FORMER CPA SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR WIRE FRAUD

(McALLEN, Texas) - Rodrigo Garcia, 49, of McAllen, Texas, convicted of wire fraud, has been sentenced to prison for abusing his position of trust by taking the money of a paraplegic client via wire transfers from the victim’s bank account for his own use and benefit, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Garcia to 51 months in federal prison to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release at a sentencing hearing held today in federal court in McAllen. Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on July 30, 2010. Judge Crane further ordered Garcia to pay restitution in the amount of $1,218,960.11 which represents the total amount of the victim’s funds that the court found Garcia had used for his own benefit to include $37,000 in wire transfers charged in the indictment.

According to the record of the case, Garcia was a certified public accountant (CPA) in McAllen in 2002, whose business was to provide financial services to his clients. In April 2002, the paraplegic victim hired Garcia to manage his financial affairs after receiving a $3.6 million settlement. In July 2002, the paraplegic victim signed a statutory power of attorney giving Garcia authority to access and conduct financial transactions including withdrawals from his bank account at the victim’s request.

On four occasions in April and July 2005, Garcia approved four wire transfers totaling $37,000 from the victim’s bank account. Two of the wire transfers totaling $22,000 were delivered to the bank account of an auto dealership to purchase a car while $15,000 was wired to the account of an auto restoration business to restore a vehicle for Garcia. These wire transfers were for Garcia’s benefit and made without the knowledge or consent of the victim.

Garcia’s CPA license had been revoked in 2003.

Last week during a hearing, the victim of Garcia’s criminal conduct told the court that Garcia knew he, the victim, did not have legal status in the United States and about the impact Garcia’s conduct has and will have on his ability to support his family and his daily expenses. Today, the court considered the victim’s vulnerability, the substantial impact of Garcia’s criminal conduct on the victim, his family and his life in finding Garcia had abused a position of trust which the court considered in deciding upon the final sentence handed down.    

Following last week’s hearing, after the court learned that Garcia had failed to pay any amount of restitution to the victim while out on bond, the court revoked the bond and remanded him to federal custody without bond pending today’s sentencing hearing. Garcia will remain in custody to serve his sentence pending transfer to a Bureau of Prison’s facility to be designated in the near future.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Wells Jr.

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