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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Former U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency Loan Officer in Uvalde Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison in Farm Loan Fraud Case

Barbara Serna Salinas, a 43-year-old former loan officer for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Uvalde, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for a farm loan fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney John Bash.

During sentencing yesterday in Del Rio, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses also ordered Serna to pay $166,744.20 in restitution to the USDA and be placed on supervised release for a period of five years after completing her prison term.

On June 28, 2018, Serna pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement on a loan application.  By pleading guilty, Serna admitted she issued multiple fraudulent FSA loans from May 2011 through June 2016.  Furthermore, in exchange for approving the loans, Serna accepted cash or other forms of payment from her co-defendants, Ruben James Valadez, age 44 of Uvalde, and Eric Torres Neira, age 44 of San Antonio. According to court documents, a review of USDA loans approved by Serna after 2011 identified several to Neira and Valadez, which totaled more than $150,000. 

On December 4, 2018, Judge Moses sentenced Neira to five months imprisonment and ordered him to pay restitution to the USDA, joint and severally with Serna, in the amount of $142,961.94.  Valadez is currently awaiting sentencing on October 2, 2019.  Neira and Valadez pleaded guilty to the same false statement charge--Neira on March 29, 2018; Valadez on April 26, 2018.

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 Attorney Todd Keagle is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated April 9, 2019