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Former Kickapoo manager convicted of stealing from tribe

Waco, Texas (AP) 10-07

A former Kickapoo tribal manager accused of using money from the tribe’s casino to fund political campaigns and personal expenses was convicted of theft and cheating on his taxes.

Isidro Garza Jr. was convicted during Ocotber of 11 counts of conspiracy, stealing money from the tribe and evading the federal income tax. He faces more than 50 years in prison.

Garza’s wife and son and the former manager of the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass were convicted of an assortment of similar charges.

Garza’s wife, Martha, was convicted of five counts. His son, former state Rep. Timoteo Garza, was convicted of four counts. And Lee Martin, the former casino manager, was convicted of three counts.

Each count carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison. Sentencing was set for Nov. 28.

The verdicts capped a five-year federal investigation into alleged corruption at the casino in Eagle Pass.

Prosecutors said Isidro Garza used the casino as his personal piggy bank and tried to hide the assets from the Internal Revenue Service by using a consulting business in the name of his sons and wife, a former casino employee.

During the trial, South Texas officials said Isidro Garza spent lavishly on area political campaigns, sometimes disguising them in the books as legitimate tribal expenses.

Isidro Garza’s lawyer said any discrepancies were mistakes.

The case went to trial after the four defendants renounced plea agreements in May, claiming they were innocent and had been coerced into pleading guilty.

The trial was moved from Eagle Pass to Waco after the defendants cited a conflict of interest involving the original judge.

Information from: San Antonio Express-News
http://www.mysanantonio.com
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