A businessman already serving time for federal public corruption charges is now facing four new federal charges as well. He and his wife have apparently now been indicted for alleged conspiracy to defraud the government, theft of public money and property, making fraudulent claims and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
These complicated sounding charges relate to alleged money that the couple received in excess of $1 million. It’s reported that the businessman also pled guilty to mail fraud charges and is currently serving more than six years in prison. At the court of appeals in New Orleans, he has asked that his guilty plea be withdrawn and has asked for access to documents seemingly related to his indictment.
The businessman reportedly in the past had successfully advocated for the unsealing of court documents relating to local corruption investigations. He hoped to have had the same sort of success with this appeal.
Federal charges can result in years of imprisonment. Federal prosecuting attorneys also can be quite aggressive in pursuing these charges as well.
Without knowing what the results are of the appeal of this matter it’s difficult to tell if the businessman’s request to unseal records have merit. However, there does need to be transparency in our criminal law system. Every person indicted has the right to know what the charges are and be able to confront witnesses that are making those charges. He also has the right to have an able criminal defense attorney defend him against any such charges.
Source: El Paso Times, “El Paso businessman Adrian Pena, wife face new federal fraud charges,” Adriana M. Chavez, May 1, 2013