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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Former U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency Loan Officer in Uvalde and Two Receipients Arrested and Charged in Farm Loan Fraud Case

In Del Rio, federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against three individuals for their alleged roles in a farm loan fraud scheme announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.


The criminal complaint, filed this week, charges Barbara Serna Salinas, a 42-year-old former loan officer for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Uvalde, and two loan recipients—Ruben James Valadez, age 43 of Uvalde, and Eric Torres Neira, age 43 of San Antonio--with wire fraud and making false statements on a loan application.


The complaint alleges that from May 2011 through June 2016, Serna in her official capacity issued multiple fraudulent FSA loans.  Furthermore, in exchange for approving the loans, Serna accepted cash or other forms of payment from Neira and Valadez. According to the complaint, a review of USDA loans approved by Serna after 2011 identified several to Neira and Valadez, which totaled more than $150,000. 


Federal authorities arrested Serna and Valadez yesterday in Uvalde, TX.  Neira was taken into custody this morning in San Antonio.  All three have made their initial appearances in federal court and have been released on bond pending resolution of this case.


Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 30 years in federal prison for wire fraud and up to 20 years in federal prison for making a false statement on loan application. 


The United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General-Investigations, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted this investigation.  Assistant United States Attorneys Goran Krnaich and Todd Keagle are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.


A criminal complaint is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Financial Fraud
Updated November 9, 2017