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Mayor in Arizona arrested on bribery charges

The Arizona attorney general says Nogales Mayor Octavio Garcia Von Borstel has been arrested on multiple charges including bribery, theft, fraud and money laundering.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The mayor of Nogales was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents on multiple charges including bribery, theft, fraud and money laundering, Arizona's attorney general said.

Mayor Octavio Garcia Von Borstel, 29, was taken into custody at his office at Nogales City Hall. Search warrants were executed at the mayor's home, business and office.

The mayor's father, Octavio Suarez Garcia, 59, of Nogales, was also indicted and arrested Tuesday. He faces several charges that include fraud, theft and money laundering.

Attorney General Terry Goddard called the charges serious.

"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."

Goddard said the indictments do not allege any connection to drug cartels.

"This indictment is specific to the activities of the mayor at the city and the business that was run by the mayor and his father," Goddard said.

Goddard's office said FBI agents began investigating Garcia Von Borstel five months ago and determined he was soliciting Nogales businesses as early as February 2009 to hire him as a business consultant.

At least one business admitted to the FBI that it was paying the mayor to use his official position to obtain business contracts and, specifically, to obtain new city of Nogales contracts, circumventing either open bidding or proper application processes.

A news release said further investigation determined the mayor also received money from at least one business in exchange for using his official position to protect a contract the business owner had with the city and to assist the owner in obtaining an additional city contract.

Goddard alleges the mayor's father, Garcia Suarez, was authorized to sell Western Union money orders from his money transmitter business in Nogales. The state says Garcia Suarez fraudulently reported that Western Union money orders worth $3.2 million were sold though there were no cash deposits to back them up.

The money orders were then cashed by Garcia Von Borstel and deposited into a bank account he controlled.

Of the $3.2 million, the father and son withdrew $565,000 for their personal use before the account was frozen, prosecutors said.

The mayor did not immediately respond to an e-mail or a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.