Arizona mayor arrested on bribery charges
Nogales, Ariz., Mayor Octavio Garcia Von Borstel has been arrested on charges that include bribery, theft, fraud and money laundering. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said in a statement that Von Borstel, 29, and his father, 59-year-old Octavio Garcia Suarez, took money from local businesses in exchange for contracts with the city.
FBI agents began investigating Garcia Von Borstel five months ago and determined that he was soliciting Nogales businesses to hire him as a business consultant as early as February 2009, according to Goddard’s office. At least one business admitted to the FBI that it was paying the mayor to use his official position to obtain new city contracts without open bidding or proper application, and the investigation found that Von Borstel also received money from at least one business to protect a contract the business owner had with the city and to assist the business owner in obtaining an additional city contract.
Von Borstel’s father — an agent for Western Union authorized to sell money orders at his business ACE Cash Express, in Nogales — is accused of fraudulently reporting that he sold $3.2 million in Western Union money orders, though there were no cash deposits to back them up. Von Borstel then cashed the money orders and deposited the money into a bank account he controlled, from which the father and son withdrew $565,000 for their personal use before the account was frozen, according to Goddard. “These charges are serious violations of the law. Because some charges involve the official actions of an elected official, they violate the public trust,” Goddard said. “Both the mayor and his father will be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Von Borstel, who has served as mayor since April 2008, was arrested at his office at the Nogales City Hall. Investigators executed search warrants at his home, business and city hall office.
Read Goddard’s press release on Von Borstel’s arrest.