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July 14, 2011

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Mission Attorney Pleads Guilty to Fraud

HOUSTON – On the eve of jury selection, an attorney and former bank chairman pleaded guilty to the federal felony offense of wire fraud before Senior U.S. District Judge David Hittner, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Rogelio “Roy” Ibanez Jr., 46, of Mission, Texas, a licensed Texas lawyer whose trial was scheduled to begin with jury selection tomorrow, admitted today to defrauding customers of a title company he owned called Southern Star Title Company, of McAllen, and Edinburg, Texas. On or about June 10, 2008, Ibanez caused the sum of $40,000 owned by customers of Southern Star Title Company and held in an escrow account to be wire transferred to his own law office. Ibanez admitted to Judge Hittner that he knew he had no right to make the transfer and that he intentionally did not notify the customers to whom the money belonged.

Ibanez now faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison without parole to be followed by a maximum three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and an order to pay full restitution to victims. Judge Hittner has set Ibanez’s sentencing for Oct. 7, 2011. 

Ibanez has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing. As a condition of his bond, Judge Hittner required that Ibanez surrender his license to practice law. Ibanez also agreed he would never again serve as a fiduciary, trustee, or agent or representative to any employee benefit plan covered by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The two-year investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI with the assistance of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General, the Texas Department of Insurance and the U.S. Department of Labor - Employee Benefits Security Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John R. Lewis and Carolyn Ferko are prosecuting the case.