Toyah mayor Bartolo Sanchez was arrested on Friday morning, after a federal judge unsealed a 6 count indictment against him.
Sanchez, 41, is charged with 1count of bank fraud, 1 count of wire fraud and 4 counts of aggravated identity theft.
Federal investigators say that Sanchez -- who has served as the Mayor of Toyah since May 22, 2006 -- wrote a secret settlement agreement with Chesapeake Operating, Inc. on May 14, 2009.
The $228,132.54 settlement -- which was reportedly drafted by Sanchez unbeknownst to the Toyah City Council -- was supposedly set up to fund repairs of Toyah streets that had been damaged by Chesapeake Operating vehicles.
The money from the settlement reportedly went into a new Toyah bank account that Sanchez set up himself.
However, United States attorneys claim that Sanchez reportedly wrote checks to himself from that account and several other Toyah bank accounts to fund his personal business.
Sanchez also is accused of writing bogus mileage reimbursement forms to bilk the city out of more money.
As mayor of the 100 resident city of Toyah (which comprises all of 1.6 square miles), Sanchez had signatory authority on all city bank accounts.
However, a second signature was required on checks involving city money.
In order to keep the Toyah City Council from finding out about the fraud, Sanchez reportedly forged the required second signature on the checks.
If convicted on all charges, Sanchez faces up to 58 years in prison (assuming all sentences are imposed consecutively.
The following is a press release from the United States Department of Justice on Friday's arrest.
FEDERAL AUTHORITIES ARREST WEST TEXAS MAYOR FOR ALLEGEDLY STEALING
MONEY FROM THE CITY OF TOYAH
This morning, federal agents arrested 41-year-old Bartolo Sanchez, mayor of Toyah, Texas, on fraud and identity theft charges in connection with a scheme involving approximately $300,000 in fraudulent mileage reimbursement claims and personal expenditures using city funds announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan.
A six-count federal grand jury indictment, returned this week and unsealed today, charges Sanchez with one count of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
Since May 22, 2006, Sanchez has been the elected mayor of the Toyah, a city located approximately 22 miles west of Pecos, Texas, comprising approximately 1.6 square miles and having a population of about 100 residents. According to the indictment, on May 14, 2009 and unbeknownst to the Toyah City Council, Sanchez signed a $228,132.54 settlement agreement with Chesapeake Operating, Inc. for repairs of surface damage on Toyah streets caused by Chesapeake vehicles. Sanchez deposited that money into a new Toyah bank account that he created.
The indictment further alleges that Sanchez, who had signatory authority on all city bank accounts, wrote checks to himself from various city bank accounts, including the one he created from the Chesapeake settlement, based predominantly upon fraudulent mileage reimbursement claims but also for various expenses, most of which were personal in nature and had little or nothing to do with official City business. So as to not raise the suspicions of City Council members as to his scheme, Sanchez forged a required second signature on all of the checks he issued to himself.
Upon conviction, Sanchez faces up to 30 years imprisonment on the bank fraud charge; up to 20 years imprisonment on the wire fraud charge; and a mandatory two-year term of imprisonment for each aggravated identity theft charge.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Austin Berry is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government. An indictment 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.