Friday, June 21, 2024

Former Tamaulipas governor sentenced to 9 years in prison in US

Former Tamaulipas governor Tomás Yarrington has been sentenced to nine years in jail in the United States two years after pleading guilty to charges of corruption.

Yarrington, an Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governor of the northern border state between 1999 and 2004, was imprisoned for “accepting over [US] $3.5 million in illegal bribe money and using it to fraudulently purchase property in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Tomas Yarrington, center, former governor of Tamaulipas, in 2005
Yarrington, center, seen here in 2005 was convicted of taking bribes in Mexico while he was a PRI governor of Tamaulipas. The court said he laundering the bribes into properties he bought through proxies in the U.S. (Eunice Adorno/Cuartoscuro)

The ex-governor, also the former mayor of Matamoros, was extradited to the United States from Italy in 2018. Yarrington pleaded guilty on March 25, 2021, the statement noted.

“Yarrington accepted bribes from individuals and private companies in Mexico to do business with the state of Tamaulipas while he served as governor,” the DOJ stated.

“Yarrington used the bribery money he received while governor to purchase properties in the United States. He had prestanombres — nominee buyers — purchase property in the United States to hide Yarrington’s ownership of the properties and the illegal bribery money used to purchase them,” it added.

“Yarrington laundered his illegally obtained bribe money in the United States by purchasing beachfront condominiums, large estates, commercial developments, airplanes and luxury vehicles.”

Property in Padre Island, Texas bought by Tomas Yarrington
One of the properties Yarrington bought to launder bribe money was in this luxury condominium building in Padre Island, Texas.

The DOJ said that the ex-governor forfeited a condominium in Port Isabel, Texas, as part of his sentence. It also said that Yarrington is expected to be deported once he is released from jail.

According to the DOJ statement, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas noted when handing down the sentence that “as an elected official, Yarrington violated his oath of office, weakening the country of Mexico and promoting criminal activity.”

Hamdani, who became U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas last December, said that the former governor used his position to “wrongfully fill [his] pockets and violate the laws of the United States.”

“Today’s prison sentence … concludes a multi-year, multi-agency international investigation spanning two continents concluding in bringing a corrupt politician to justice,” he said.

Tomas Yarrington extradited to the U.S in 2019
After arrested in Italy in 2018, Yarrington was eventually extradited to the U.S., where he was put on trial in Texas in U.S. District Court. (Cuartoscuro)

Rodrick J. Benton, a Houston-based official with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), said that “IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents are experts in following the money in a financial crime, and we found plenty of money to follow that helped to unravel Yarrington’s criminal enterprise.”

FBI official Oliver E. Rich said that the sentencing of the former governor “serves as a powerful reminder to any corrupt official that these activities will not be tolerated.”

Yarrington, who sought unsuccessfully to become the PRI’s presidential candidate for the 2006 election, is among a large group of Mexican governors who have been convicted or formally accused of corruption.

Others include Javier Duarte of Veracruz, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2018, Roberto Borge of Quintana Roo, and César Duarte of Chihuahua. The latter two remain in jail but have not yet faced trial.

Mexico News Daily 

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