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Case Number: 4:19-cr-00232
Judge: Ewing Werlein, Jr.
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Harris County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office
Description: Houston, Texas embezzlement charge criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant, Richard Garza, age 62, from Houston, who was charged with taking more than $4.5 million.
Houston Gateway Academy is a charter school located in the Gulfgate area of Houston. While superintendent, Garza awarded a contract to a company whose owner then sent funds back to Garza.
As part of his plea, Garza admitted he awarded a $280,000 no-bid contract to Ahmed Bokaiyan. Bokaiyan was an IT employee at the school who also owned a business called Hot Rod Systems. Bokaiyan, through his company, was to provide IT equipment and services to a new school not yet constructed.
An audit revealed Garza paid three checks totaling approximately $252,757 to Hot Rod Systems before it completed any work. Shortly after Bokaiyan received the payments, he sent approximately $164,381 via wire transfer to Garza’s personal bank account. Garza then used some of the funds to purchase a New Nissan Armada SUV and a condominium located on Gentryside Drive in Houston.
Garza was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Bokaiyan, 58, Houston, had also pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme and was ordered to pay $156,595 in restitution.
The Department of Education-Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of the TEA. Assistant U.S. Attorney Quincy L. Ollison is prosecuting the case.
THEFT CONCERNING RECEIVING FEDERAL FUNDS
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 60 months in prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. He was further ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and restitution in the amount of $191,292 to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).