The Justice Department revealed that a former California congressman TJ Cox, is facing more than two dozen federal charges related to fraud schemes. A democrat, Terrance “T.J.” Cox represented California’s 21st congressional district from January 2019 to January 2021. He was elected in 2018 but lost to a Republican in 2020. According to court records, Cox was taken into custody earlier this month. “Cox, 59, was charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud, U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said in a statement,” said a report on Market Watch.
His former district includes portions of Kings County, Fresno, Kern, and Tulare counties in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley. According to jail records, Cox was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Fresno and booked into the Fresno County Jail as part of a U.S. Marshall’s detention. The Justice Department confirmed that Cox was indicted on 28 counts including 15 counts for wire fraud, 11 counts for money laundering, one count for defrauding financial institutions, and one count for voter contribution fraud in a federal district court in California. It is not clear if Cox has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert who handles the case said in a statement that Cox is accused of stealing $1.7 million from clients and obtaining loans to finance his businesses, while using “unofficial bank accounts.” Other accusations against Cox include that he falsely stated that he would be purchasing a property as his primary residence, as well as providing fake bank statements to a lender to obtain mortgage funds for the purchase. However, the recently unsealed indictment claimed that Cox bought the property for rental.
A number of businesses and nonprofit organizations were owned, managed and employed by Cox, including a company that provided assistance to businesses in obtaining federal loans and tax credits, an almond processing company, and a nonprofit that operated a recreation center Granite Park in Fresno, according to the complaint. In addition, Cox was fraudulently awarded a $1.5 million construction loan to develop Granite Park, Talbert said.
As Cox and a nonprofit business partner’s organization were not eligible for the loan in the absence of a “party that is financially viable” to secure the loan, Cox falsely stated that a company affiliated with him would do so, per the Justice Department. In the end, the meeting did not take place and the loan went unpaid, leading to a loss of more than $1.28 million, federal prosecutors reported.
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As a candidate for Congress in 2018, Cox allegedly lied about donations made to his campaign and carried out a scheme to fund and reimburse family members and associates, according to Talbert. He says that Cox engineered more than $25,000 in illegal straw or conduit donations to his campaign.
As a result of his conviction, Cox faces up to 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and money laundering. For wire fraud affecting a financial institution and financial institution fraud, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, while campaign contribution fraud can result in five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.