A former police chief of San Angelo, Texas, has been sentenced to 15 and a half years in federal prison and fined $35,000 for his convictions on 1 charge of bribery and 3 counts of honest services mail fraud.
According to a report by KHOU, Channel 11 Houston, Timothy R. Vasquez was found guilty last March and was sentenced on August 5. His trial was held in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Lubbock, and his sentencing was in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in San Angelo.
His punishment for the white-collar crimes also includes 1 year of supervised release after he serves his prison sentence, which will be at the Federal Correction Institute in Seagoville, near Dallas. Since his convictions in March, he had been jailed at the Terry County Courthouse.
What are the consequences of forgery, bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, fraud or other white-collar offenses in Texas?
Vasquez was indicted by a federal grand jury in early 2020. The charges against him reportedly stemmed from his alleged receipt of a bribe by an agent of an organization that received federal funds, as well as 3 cases of honest services mail fraud. Investigating the case was the FBI Dallas Field Office.
Vasquez allegedly used his official position to assist a radio system vendor in getting 2 government contracts valued at over $11 million in exchange for the vendor and its affiliates allegedly funneling over $130,000 to him and his band, Funky Munky, over a period of several years.
The government contracts involved the City of San Angelo. It had solicited bids for a new radio system for its 1st responders, including San Angelo police.
Vasquez allegedly asked 1 of the 3 vendors submitting bids for a vacation trip, but he was turned down. He then allegedly recommended that the City of San Angelo award a $5.6 million contract to a different vendor, which eventually was chosen by the city.
In court, it was shown that he and his band received payments from the 2nd vendor for several years.
What is honest services fraud?
Among the many types of white-collar or non-violent crimes, you may be wondering about the nature of honest services fraud.
As a federal crime, it’s cited in the United States Code Title 18 Section 1346, also known as the federal mail and wire fraud statute. It concerns “a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”
Honest services fraud is a felony crime with a maximum penalty of as many as 20 years in federal or state prison, a fine of as much as $250,000 for individuals, and up to 3 years of supervised release or probation. When financial institutions are involved, the maximum prison sentence goes up to 30 years.
Every wire or mail transaction pertaining to the fraud is a separate offense. But since Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide stricter sentencing for those convicted of honest services fraud, as opposed to traditional mail fraud, prosecutors often elect to charge honest services mail fraud instead, as in the Vasquez case.
Elizabeth Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000 for federal charges involving wire fraud and defrauding investors.
Charges can be federal or state
White-collar crime charges can also be made at the state level, not just the federal level. Federal charges can occur if the crime involved crossing state lines or involved the banking system or a federal agency. Texas charges tend to involve fraud and deceit in crimes such as investment scams, identity theft and embezzlement.
In Texas, white-collar crime punishments can range from a fine of no more than $500 with no jail time for a misdemeanor (typically stolen property under $50) to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a 1st-degree felony. (Texas white-collar felonies involve theft of more than $1,500.)
Two Ohio sport fishermen were sentenced to 10 days in jail and 6 months probation for trying to rig a fishing tournament by weighing down the fish they’d caught.
Legal defenses against white-collar crimes
If you or a loved one face a charge of a white-collar crime, whether it’s for bribery, mail fraud, embezzlement, money laundering or some other offense, you need to explore your legal defenses against white-collar crime charges.
In a case such as the one above, a charge of honest services mail fraud could be countered by an experienced criminal defense lawyer by challenging the interpretation of honest services. These are not strictly defined by federal law but are at the discretion of the federal court in each case, and they can range from property to money to “intangible rights” given to the public.
When written, the federal law on honest services fraud was intended to combat government corruption. But alleged interference with the aforementioned “intangible rights,” which also are not defined by law, can be used to prosecute individuals in the private sector.
A skilled white-collar crime defense attorney can contest such allegations and challenge any interpretations of honest services fraud that are detrimental to his or her client.
Just how effective is the Neal Davis Law Firm for those needing a Houston white-collar criminal defense lawyer?
A Neal Davis client was the only 1 of 21 defendants to get probation—not prison—in a recent federal telemarketing fraud case involving $300 million.
Get an award-winning white-collar defense lawyer
For years, the Neal Davis Law Firm has been honored and cited for its work handling criminal defense for those facing a white-collar crime charge. In fact, in every year since 2015, Neal Davis has been listed in the top 5 percent of defense attorneys in the entire U.S. for white-collar crimes, according to peer reviews for Best Lawyers in America.
In the past 2 decades, Neal Davis has successfully resolved state and federal white-collar criminal cases across Texas. By thoroughly investigating a case and communicating effectively with prosecutors, judges and juries, Davis has often managed to negotiate a favorable resolution for his clients without the need of a trial.
Persons living in Houston or throughout Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County may need help with a different white-collar crime than the ones noted in San Angelo. Rest assured that our law firm has handled a wide variety of cases involving white-collar crime and non-violent offenses.
You may need legal help against a claim, accusation or charge of embezzlement, identity theft, counterfeiting, money laundering, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, antitrust violations, extortion, kickbacks, tax evasion, Ponzi schemes or other white-collar offenses.
Whatever the case may be, you must protect your legal rights. That means you must engage a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer for white-collar crimes—crimes that can bring years in prison despite involving no violence.
Contact us today at the Neal Davis Law Firm to arrange a consultation for your white-collar crime case.
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