Politics

Former Democratic California Rep. TJ Cox Indicted For Fraud, Faces Up To 55 Years In Prison

(Photo by Bill Clark-Pool/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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A federal grand jury indicted former Democratic California Rep. TJ Cox on 28 charges stemming from an alleged scheme run out of a business development organization he previously served as president.

Cox, who served a single term in Congress from 2019-2021, is charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, eleven counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement. He faces up to 55 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if he is convicted of all charges.

The indictment, filed Aug. 8 and unsealed Tuesday, was first reported by the San Joaquin Valley Sun. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office booked Cox on Tuesday morning.

Cox stole at least $3.2 million in fraudulently obtained loans and investments as part of three separate ventures, according to the DOJ. He also falsely claimed that he would use a property he purchased as his primary residence, allegedly allowing him to access more favorable loan terms. Cox later rented the property out.

The candidate also allegedly distributed more than $25,000 to family and friends as part of an effort to skirt campaign finance laws during the 2018 midterm elections. (RELATED: GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Convicted Of Lying To Feds, Faces Up To 15 Years In Prison)

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp announced in March that the FBI was investigating Cox over one of his business deals, a $1.5 million loan to help develop the Granite Park sports complex. A city audit of the development project found that the organization running Granite Park, Central Valley Community Sports Foundation (CVCSF), made 31 bookkeeping errors, GV Wire reported. Cox’s organization, Central Valley New Market Tax Credits LLC (NMTC), loaned CVCSF thousands of dollars, which were paid back to an NMTC corporate officer directly.

Allegations of financial wrongdoing dogged Cox throughout his 2020 re-election campaign. He lost his bid to Republican David Valadao by fewer than 1,600 votes.