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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Serial Law Enforcement Impersonator Sentenced to Ten Years for Fraud and Firearms Offenses

In Austin today, a federal judge sentenced Modesto Gonzalez, III, to ten years in federal prison for defrauding numerous individuals out of more than of $300,000 by impersonating a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash and DEA Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy, Houston Division. 

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ordered that Gonzalez pay total restitution to his victims in the amount of approximately $307,000; and, be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term.

Court documents showed that 47-year-old Gonzalez of Caldwell County, TX, falsely told illegal aliens that he was a DEA agent and that he could assist them in obtaining immigration status in the U.S. Court filings indicate that Gonzalez victimized numerous individuals in the Austin area, as well as a group of approximately 20 individuals from the Chicago, IL, area.  The illegal aliens paid Gonzalez thousands of dollars each.

Gonzalez also falsely told U.S. citizens and others lawfully present in the U.S. that he would sell them property seized by the DEA, including earth-moving equipment. Gonzalez received tens of thousands of dollars based on those fraudulent statements.

In fact, Gonzalez was not a DEA agent, had no ability to provide immigration assistance, and had no ability to sell DEA-seized equipment. Court records also showed that Gonzalez has previously been convicted twice in federal court for impersonating law enforcement, and once in state court for impersonation-based theft.

Numerous victims of Gonzalez’s fraud stated to the Court at sentencing that Gonzalez told them that they and their children would be deported if they did not pay Gonzalez thousands of dollars each. These victims also told the Court that Gonzalez later charged them for “taxes” that Gonzalez said they had to pay him.

“This prosecution is an example of how we seek justice for all victims of crime, including migrants who are in the country illegally.  No one deserves to be defrauded,” stated U.S. Attorney Bash.

On March 21, 2019, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.  Judge Yeakel sentenced Gonzalez to ten years imprisonment on the wire fraud charge and five years imprisonment on the gun charge to run concurrently.  Judge Yeakel also ordered Gonzalez to forfeit three firearms that were recovered from his home during the execution of a search warrant in January 2018.  Gonzalez has remained in custody since being arrested during the search warrant execution.

DEA agents investigated this case with assistance from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents.  The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office also provided assistance during execution of the search warrant.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alan Buie, Gabriel Cohen, and Michael Galdo prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Immigration
Component(s): 
Updated July 30, 2019