Jorge Garza and More charged in RGV auto loan scam

(STL.News) – Three more individuals have been charged in connection with a long-running scheme to defraud a financial institution in a scheme to obtain car loans in the Rio Grande Valley, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

A federal grand jury returned the superseding indictment under seal Oct. 22 against Jorge Garza, 46, San Antonio; Samuel Sanchez, 55, McAllen; and Soundra Lopez, 52, Weslaco.  It was unsealed in its entirety today as authorities arrested Sanchez.  He is expected to make his initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan Alanis this morning.  Garza and Lopez appeared in federal court last week following their arrests and were permitted release upon posting bond pending further criminal proceedings.

The three are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Sanchez and Lopez allegedly provided materially false information to County and Municipal Employee’s Credit Union (CMECU) regarding borrower creditworthiness in order to fund motor vehicle purchases.  Garza, Sanchez and Lopez caused CMECU to fund approximately $2,287,720 in fraudulent loans, according to the superseding indictment.

Three car dealership employees were previously charged in relation to this scheme – Ronnie Joe Gomez, 44, Pharr; David Salinas, 45, McAllen; and Jorge Villanueva 51, San Antonio.

Gomez and Salinas are charged with wire fraud, while Villanueva is charged with wire fraud against a financial institution.  Garza, Sanchez and Lopez are all charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  Gomez and Salinas face up to 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine, while the remaining defendants could receive a maximum 30-year prison term and up to a $1 million potential fine, upon conviction.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances E. Blake is prosecuting the case.

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