Businessman Frank Apodaca appealing 8-year sentence set to start Wednesday

EL PASO, Texas - Convicted businessman Frank Apodaca is asking federal Judge Frank Montalvo to give him another two months before he has to go to prison.

Apodaca is scheduled to turn himself in on Wednesday afternoon to serve an eight year sentence.

Apodaca pleaded guilty to bribing several elected officials at the El Paso Independent School District, Ysleta Independent School District, Socorro Independent School District, and the County so they'd award lucrative health management contracts to his company, Access HealthSource.

He was indicted in 2010 and pleaded guilty two years later.

But in that time, Apodaca suffered a brain injury and has had several surgeries. He's told the judge he suffers seizures and requires special treatment.

Court documents filed on Monday state Montalvo recommended he serve prison time at a medical facility in Big Spring, but Apodaca's attorney argues the facility is not equipped to provide the treatment his client needs.

"Of note, is that Defendant is required to sleep on a BiPaP machine for severe sleep apnea. Of immediate concern is that Defendant will not be allowed to bring any of his medications or his BiPap machine into the prison facility...," according to the court filing. "Defendant is scheduled in late January 2014 for a quarterly pain management treatment involving 40 injections of botox into specific sites..."

Last week, Apodaca also requested a new trial, arguing he didn't understand his guilty plea because of his brain injury. He said his attorneys and his wife pressured him to admit a crime he says he didn't commit.

His new attorneys are public defenders.

Also, co-defendant Marc Schwartz is scheduled to surrender at La Tuna Wednesday to serve an eight-year sentence.

Apodaca's and Schwartz's cases

Former Access Healthsource CEO Frank Apodaca and publicist Marc Schwartz were each sentenced to eight years in prison in their respective federal corruption cases.

United States District Judge Frank Montalvo also ordered that the defendants pay restitution in the following amounts:

$4.1 million to the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD); $2,286,629.76 to the Ysleta Independent School District

(YISD); and, $433,103.11 to El Paso County. Furthermore, Judge Montalvo ordered that each defendant self-surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons designated facility on or before December 18, 2013, to begin serving his prison term.

The two sentenced on Wednesday, Nov. 6 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 SISD. 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, and Charlie Garcia 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.

"The sentencing of Frank Apodaca Jr. and Marc Schwartz marks another chapter in a ten year investigation in which public confidence was betrayed by a group of elected officials and vendors who used their influence to promote their own personal greed. It also shows the continued commitment of the FBI to aggressively pursue individuals who violated the public's trust by holding them personally accountable for their self-serving acts," stated FBI SAC Douglas E. Lindquist.

This FBI investigation has resulted in 39 federal convictions -- 36 individuals who entered guilty pleas and three individuals who were convicted by juries.

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