Saturday, November 19, 2005

MORE CHARGES FOR ANGELO

A version of this appeared in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 19, 2005

A key witness in the federal extortion and money-laundering case against former state Treasurer Robert Vigil is facing 19 new counts in a state security fraud case.

The new charges for which Albuquerque businessman Angelo Garcia was indicted on Thursday are on top of the 27 charges he already was facing in the same case involving a Santa Fe low-income housing development that never got off the ground.

Attorney General Patricia Madrid said Friday that the victims in the case are all elderly New Mexico residents.

“Some people see white collar crimes as simply an issue about money,” Madrid said in a written statement. “But when an elderly person is defrauded of their life savings we are talking about much more than money. When an individual is living on a fixed income the loss of life savings greatly impacts the future quality of life. Targeting the elderly and defrauding them of their life savings is unconscionable.”

Also expressing disgust for those who cheat elderly victims was Sam Bregman, one of Vigil’s lawyers in his federal case.

“Angelo Garcia is the government’s star witness against my client,” Bregman said in an interview Friday. “He is nothing more than a con man. The government’s entire case against Robert Vigil is based on the testimony of con men and convicted criminals.”

Garcia has pleaded not guilty to the original state securities-fraud charges.
But he has pleaded guilty in federal court to aiding and abetting extortion in a kickback scheme involving Vigil and his predecessor Michael Montoya — who this month pleaded guilty to one count of extortion in the federal case.

Garcia already was cooperating with the federal government against Vigil and Montoya when he was originally indicted in September by a state grand jury in the securities-fraud case.

Garcia’s new charges represent more than $600,000 allegedly lost by seven victims, Madrid said.

One elderly couple allegedly lost more than $174,000, while another man allegedly lost more than $156,000. A mother and daughter each allegedly lost more than $100,000 to Garcia’s venture. A second couple allegedly lost about $65,000.

These losses are in addition to the near $1 million that state prosecutors say Garcia and his partners took from elderly investors covered in the previous indictments. Those charges are still pending.

Garcia’s new indictment includes five counts each of securities fraud, fraud over $20,000 and sale of unregistered securities, and one count each of forgery, racketeering and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

The Santa Fe project was a $2.6 million, 44-unit apartment complex called the San Clemente Apartments proposed to be built on 3.5 acres between Airport Road and Jaguar Drive. Some of Garcia’s alleged victims put up money for projects in Rio Rancho and Belen. None of the three projects were ever built.

The same Bernalillo County grand jury on Thursday also indicted Orlando Montoya — brother of the former treasurer — on four additional felony counts in the securities-fraud case.

Orlando Montoya previously was indicted on 13 felony counts in the case.

Angelo Garcia’s brother Joseph Garcia also was indicted on 11 felony counts in September in the securities- fraud case. The grand jury didn’t add any new charges for him this week.

Both Joseph Garcia and Orlando Montoya have pleaded not guilty.

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