Former Department of Transportation Employee Charged with Bribery and Extortion
A federal grand jury in Houston has returned an indictment charging a former U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) employee with bribery and extortion.
Patrick Gorena, 54, of Lyford, Texas, is scheduled to make his initial court appearance today at 3 p.m. EST.
According to court documents, Gorena was a border investigator for DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In exchange for minimizing purported safety violations he encountered while auditing a trucking company, which would have exposed the company to potential fines and the loss of their ability to operate, Gorena allegedly demanded a $3,500 cash payment. The charges allege Gorena ultimately accepted a $2,000 bribe from an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a representative of the trucking company.
Gorena is charged with one count of bribery and one count of extortion under color of official right. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the extortion count and 15 years in prison on the bribery count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery for the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Oliver E. Rich Jr. of the FBI San Antonio Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Todd A. Damiani of the DOT Office of Inspector General’s (DOT-OIG) Southern Region made the announcement.
The McAllen FBI Public Corruption Squad and DOT-OIG are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Lauren Castaldi of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hanes for the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.