Terrance John “TJ” Cox, a former congressional representative of California, is now facing dozens of fraud charges that could land him several years of jail time and fines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars if he is convicted.
The FBI arrested Cox
, 59, of Fresno, California, at around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday on various fraud-related charges.
Cox is facing 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Tuesday.
If convicted of the charges in the 28-count indictment, the former one-term California lawmaker could face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and money laundering; a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for wire fraud affecting a financial institution and financial institution fraud; and a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for campaign contribution fraud.
“Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables,” the DOJ said. “The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
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In one of the allegations, Cox is accused of perpetrating several fraud schemes that involved companies he was affiliated with in addition to their clients and vendors. He allegedly diverted their money into unauthorized off-the-books bank accounts he created “through false representations, pretenses and promises.”
Between 2013 and 2018, Cox allegedly acquired more than $1.7 million, which he illegally solicited from client payments, company loans and investments.
Cox is also accused of fraudulently obtaining a $1.5 million construction loan which was to be used to develop Fresno’s Granite Park.
“Cox and his business partner’s nonprofit could not qualify for the construction loan without a financially viable party guaranteeing the loan,” the DOJ said. “Cox falsely represented that one of hist affiliated companies would guarantee the loan, and submitted a fabricated board resolution which falsely stated that at a meeting on a given date all company owners agreed to guarantee the Granite Park loan.”
The DOJ stated that a meeting did not occur since the other owners did not choose to finance the loan, which later went into default and resulted in a loss of over $1.28 million.
While running as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, Cox allegedly perpetrated a scheme to “fund and reimburse family members and associates for donations to his campaign.” A year prior, he purportedly arranged more than $25,000 in illegal straw or conduit donations to his campaign.
Although Cox managed to evade tax and payment issues filed against him while still in office, the Internal Revenue Service eventually placed a lien on Cox and his wife, Kathleen Murphy, over the money he owed – around $145,000 in unpaid federal income tax in 2020.