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Former Valley representative TJ Cox charged with wire fraud, money laundering

KMPH – Fresno-Visalia 8/17/2022 FOX26 News Team
© Provided by KMPH – Fresno-Visalia

UPDATE: A 28-count indictment was unsealed Tuesday charging TJ Cox of Fresno with 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud.

Cox served as the U.S. representative for California's 21st congressional district from 2019 to 2021. He won the seat from Rep. David Valadao who took the seat back in the next election.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the charges against the 59-year-old former congressman Tuesday morning.

Cox was arrested around 8:30 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Fresno, according to the records. 

Caption: FULL STORY: Former Valley representative TJ Cox charged with wire fraud, money laundering{{ }}{p}{/p}

According to court documents, Cox perpetrated multiple fraud schemes targeting companies he was affiliated with and their clients and vendors. 

The charging documents says he created unauthorized off-the-books bank accounts and diverted client and company money into those accounts through false representations, pretenses and promises. 

Cox is accused of illegally obtaining over $1.7 million in diverted client payments and company loans and investments he solicited and then stole across two different fraud schemes from 2013 to 2018.

In addition, he is accused of receiving mortgage loan funds from a lender for a property purchase by submitting multiple false representations to the lender, including fabricated bank statements and false statements that he intended to live in the property as his primary residence. 

The investigation showed he bought the property to rent it to someone else.

The documents also say he fraudulently obtained a $1.5 million construction loan to develop Granite Park in Fresno.

Cox and his business partner’s nonprofit could not qualify for the construction loan without a financially viable party guaranteeing the loan. 

Cox falsely represented that one of his 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. 

No meeting took place, and the other owners did not agree to back the loan. The loan later went into default causing a loss of more than $1.28 million.

According to the indictment, when Cox was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 election, he perpetrated a scheme to fund and reimburse family members and associates for donations to his campaign. 

Cox arranged for over $25,000 in illegal straw or conduit donations to his campaign in 2017.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Jeffrey A. Spivak are prosecuting the case.   

The two attorneys say they have 28,000 pages of evidence against Cox gathered by the FBI and IRS.

Nearly six hours after being arrested TJ Cox pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in Fresno federal court Tuesday afternoon. The judge agreed to release the former congressman without bail on three conditions. He has to surrender his passport, not contact witnesses in the case, and have no control over financial matters.

Caption: TJ Cox was released from jail Tuesday afternoon

If convicted, Cox faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and money laundering. 

He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for wire fraud affecting a financial institution and financial institution fraud. 

He faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for campaign contribution fraud. 

The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating the case.

Former Valley representative TJ Cox charged with wire fraud, money laundering
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