Terry Goddard Announces Indictment of Nogales Mayor on Charges of Bribery, Theft, Fraud, and Money Laundering

PHOENIX—Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced the indictment and arrest of Mayor Octavio Garcia Von Borstel, 29, of Nogales, Arizona, on multiple charges including bribery, theft, fraud, and money laundering.

Garcia Von Borstel, a democrat, was arrested at his office at the Nogales City Hall this morning. Concurrently, search warrants were executed at his home, business and City Hall office.

The mayor’s father, Octavio Suarez Garcia, 59, of Nogales, also was indicted and arrested today. He faces several charges that include fraud, theft and money laundering.

“These charges are serious violations of the law. Because some charges involve the official actions of an elected official, they violate the public trust,” Goddard said. “Both the mayor and his father will be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“Today's arrest of Mayor Van Borstel has been a collaborative effort with the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force and the Arizona Attorney General's Office,” stated Nathan T. Gray, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division. “When a public official allegedly commits criminal acts it erodes the public's trust. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are determined to address public corruption at all levels of government.”

Garcia Von Borstel began serving as the city’s mayor in April 2008.

FBI agents began investigating Garcia Von Borstel five months ago and determined that he was soliciting Nogales businesses to hire him as a business consultant as early as February 2009. At least one business admitted to the FBI that it was paying the mayor to use his official position to obtain business contracts and, specifically, to obtain new City of Nogales contracts, circumventing either open bidding or proper application processes.

Further investigation determined that the mayor also received money from at least one business in exchange for utilizing his official position to protect a contract the business owner had with the city and to assist the business owner in obtaining an additional city contract.

The mayor’s father, Garcia Suarez, was an agent for Western Union authorized to sell Western Union money orders from his money transmitter business, ACE Cash Express, in Nogales. The state alleges that Garcia Suarez fraudulently reported that Western Union money orders worth $3.2 million were sold though there were no cash deposits to back them up. The money orders were then cashed by Garcia Von Borstel and deposited into a bank account he controlled. Of the $3.2 million, the father and son withdrew $565,000 for their personal use before the account was frozen.

This case was investigated by the Phoenix Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney Generals Kim Ortiz and Michael Jette.

For more information, contact Arizona Attorney General’s Office Press Secretary Molly Edwards at (602) 542-8019 or Manny Johnson at the FBI at 602-650-3201.