EL PASO, Texas - Four former elected officials were sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Frank Montalvo for their parts in a widespread public corruption scheme.
Their sentences are:
- Linda Chavez, former Ysleta Independent School District trustee, five years probation, 30 days in a halfway house, and $9,000 restitution.
- Milton "Mickey" Duntley, former Ysleta Independent School District trustee, 41 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and , $30,000 restitution -- $20,000 of which he paid by check on Tuesday.
- David Escobar, former city represenative and attorney, 41 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and $42,000 restitution and fined $10,000.
- Larry Medina, former county commissioner and city representative, 16 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and fined $100,000 plus $56,000 restitution.
During her sentencing, Chavez told the Montalvo, "Please understand I was not acting in a selfish way... I was naive... I trusted persons who I considered noble and trustworthy but were not."
Montalvo called Chavez's husband to the podium and scolded him for feeding his wife answers to questions during a recent meeting with her probation officer. Montalvo also told Chavez's husband if he ever hears of him doing it again, Montalvo will personally lodge a complaint against him with the FBI.
Both Chavez and Medina cried when they said their statements before being sentenced.
Medina took very long pauses, sometimes for several seconds, because he had to regain his composure from crying.
"For the rest of my life, I'm going to try my hardest and I know I'm going to succeed to make up for the harm I did to my community... It makes me feel good to do good. It makes me feel needed... When that trust is betrayed by an elected official that's the worst they can do.... I will be apologizing until the day I die."
Duntley, like Chavez, said he was influenced by others. "This issue has been a self inflicted cloud over my head... I lived in this darkness, sometimes even in my sleep... I've disgraced my family name. I've disgraced my family name... I've disgraced my noble profession. That's why I voluntarily turned in my law license. I will try to make amends the rest of my life."
The three who were sentenced to prison were immediately taken into custody by the U.S. Marshalls Service.
The four sentenced on Tuesday are part of a group of 11 El Pasoans who turned themselves in to the FBI in September 2010 after they were indicted that same week on federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations or RICO charges.
The case centers around Access HealthSource and its contracts with El Paso County and three school districts from 1998-2007.
The school districts were El Paso Independent School District, Ysleta Independent School District, and Socorro Independent School District. The indictment states there was a pattern of racketeering mail fraud and wire fraud.
RICO indictments returned in September 2010:
- Charges: Frank Apodaca Jr and Marc Schwartz with two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and deprivation of honest services, two counts of mail fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
- Charges: Larry Medina with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and deprivation of honest services and one count of mail fraud.
- Luther Jones, Gilbert Sanchez, David Escobar, Mickey Duntley, Ray Rodriguez with one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
- Charges: Willie Gandara Sr. and Linda Chavez with one count each of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
Editor's note: Check kvia.com and watch newscasts at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. for more details from ABC-7 reporter Maria Garcia.