Former California congressman arrested, accused of fraud

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A former U.S. congressman from central California was arrested by federal agents Tuesday on charges of wire fraud, money laundering and campaign contribution fraud stemming from “multiple fraud schemes,” federal prosecutors said.

Terrance “TJ” Cox was arrested by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Fresno, where he was booked into the Fresno County Jail in US Marshals custody, jail records show. It was not immediately known if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. An email sent to Cox on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Cox, a Democrat, represented the 21st Congressional District from January 2019 to January 2021. The district is in the agricultural-rich San Joaquin Valley and includes Kings County and parts of Fresno, Kern and Tulare.

Cox, 59, was charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud, US Attorney Phillip Talbert said in a statement.

Talbert said that between 2013 and 2018, Cox allegedly obtained $1.7 million from funds he solicited from customers and loans he obtained for his businesses and then stole by diverting the money to “unrecorded bank accounts.”

Cox owned, managed, and employed several businesses and nonprofits, including a business that helped businesses obtain federal loans and tax credits, an almond processing business, and a nonprofit that operated Granite Park. , a recreational facility in Fresno. according to the complaint.

Cox also fraudulently obtained a $1.5 million construction loan to develop Granite Park, Talbert said.

After his nonprofit failed to qualify for the construction loan for the recreational facility without a party to guarantee the loan, Cox said one of his companies would guarantee the loan and filed a trumped-up board resolution falsely stating that during a meeting all the owners of the company had agreed to guarantee the Granite Park loan.

“No meeting was held and the other owners did not agree to endorse the loan,” Talbert said.

The loan later went into default, causing a loss of more than $1.28 million, he said.

According to the indictment, when Cox was campaigning in 2017 for the U.S. House of Representatives, he perpetrated a scheme to finance and reimburse family members and associates for donations to his campaign, prosecutors said. Cox arranged more than $25,000 in illegal straw or conduit donations for her campaign, Talbert said.

If convicted, Cox faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and money laundering, and up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for wire fraud involving a financial institution. The campaign contribution fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


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