July 22, 2010
PREVIOUSLY INDICTED POLICE OFFICER FACES ADDITIONAL CHARGES
(LAREDO, Texas) – A superseding indictment accusing Orlando Jesus Hale aka Chacho, 27, of Laredo, of mail and wire fraud arising from an alleged auto theft insurance fraud scheme in addition to the previous charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and using a firearm in furtherance of that drug offense has been unsealed, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
The superseding indictment returned under seal on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, was unsealed yesterday following Hale’s arrest. The new indictment adds four new counts of mail and wire fraud to the original indictment returned in April 2010. Hale, who pleaded not guilty to the new charges, has been ordered released on the same conditions originally imposed in April to include electronic monitoring.
Hale was originally charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine between Oct. 15, 2008, to Nov. 30, 2008, and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and possessing the firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime between Nov. 7 to Nov. 25, 2008.
The new charges allege that between May 2008 and February 2009, Hale devised a scheme to defraud insurance companies to obtain money and property by assisting in the theft and sale of vehicles from complicit owners. According to allegations in the indictment, Hale participated in the taking of vehicles from the United States which were driven to Mexico and sold and transferred to others. Hale was to, in turn, allegedly receive money from the persons in Mexico and elsewhere, who had possession of the vehicles and driven them to Mexico. The taking of the vehicles was pre-arranged with the cooperation and consent of the owners of the vehicles who had either fallen behind in payments or no longer wanted to pay on the loan on the vehicles. The owner would falsely report the vehicle stolen to Hale or to another Laredo police officer recruited and paid by Hale to generate an official report of the theft of the vehicle. The owner would then submit the false report of theft to their respective auto insurance companies. The insurance companies, relying on the false reports, would satisfy the claim by sending checks via the U.S. Mail to the insured owners or via wire transfer to satisfy expenses incurred by the owners. The three mail fraud charges and one wire fraud charge arise from the alleged theft of two vehicles in October 2008 and December 2008 resulting in the payment of thousands of dollars in insurance proceeds to pay for the purported loss of the vehicles and expenses allegedly incurred as a result of the thefts.
Each of the four new charges of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years upon conviction. The drug conspiracy count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment along with a $4 million fine upon conviction. The firearms charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment upon conviction, which must be served consecutive or upon completion of any term of imprisonment imposed for the underlying drug offense as well as a $250,000 fine.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Immigration Customs Enforcement and Customs Border Protection, with the assistance and cooperation of the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Roberto F. Ramirez and James McAlister are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
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