The First Judicial District Attorney’s Office extradited a Texas man to New Mexico to face fraud and conspiracy charges after he was accused of scamming a Los Alamos woman out of approximately $200,000.
Tiburcio Bazaldua, 67, of San Antonio, Texas, is charged with collusion with at least one other person in an elaborate scheme targeting the woman in 2020. His alleged accomplice, Diana Williams, was arrested in January and her extradition is pending, the district attorney’s office said.
Bazaldua is due in court on March 3 in state district court. If convicted on both counts, he faces up to 12 years in prison.
A Santa Fe defense attorney appointed to represent him last month in Los Alamos County Trial Court did not respond to calls seeking comment.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies wrote in an email that the case originated in San Antonio, but officials there declined to follow up after determining the crime occurred in New Mexico. . Federal prosecutors also looked into the case but did not prosecute it.
“Only [the Los Alamos Police Department] follow-up for the victim,” Carmack-Altwies wrote. “This case is an example of how financial crimes can rival violent crimes in terms of seriousness. The scheme was intended to deprive the victims of all their available assets.
“While some victims lost enough for federal authorities to get involved, this victim was at risk of falling through the cracks,” she added.
The Los Alamos woman told police in September 2020 that she had been contacted the previous month by a woman named Marie Gomez, who said her identity had been stolen and was being used to send money to cartels of drugs in Colombia, according to an arrest warrant affidavit Los Alamos police filed a case in November.
According to the affidavit, Gomez first told the woman she had to send money for attorney’s fees to clear her name. Next, Gomez allegedly claimed that the woman’s identity was used to rent a vehicle found near the Texas border. Authorities believed someone had been killed in the vehicle, Gomez told the woman, and she would be placed in federal prison if she did not send money to prove to the government that she was cooperating and not supporting cartels.
“None of these statements were true,” said the Los Alamos Police Sgt. James Rodriguez wrote in the affidavit.
The woman spoke on the phone with several people claiming to be federal investigators or US Treasury employees, according to court records. They warned her that they were disabling her Medicare and Social Security numbers to prevent them from being used to funnel money to the cartel and told her that she should send them email. money in his account in a safe place until the case is closed.
The woman followed their instructions. She sent a FedEx cashier’s check for $199,943 to Bazaldua to an address in Texas provided by the people claiming to be federal workers, Rodriguez wrote in the affidavit.
Bazaldua deposited the check into a newly created bank account on Sept. 11, 2020, and withdrew about $1,800 over the next few weeks, according to the affidavit. He closed the account on September 22 and asked the bank to write him a cashier’s check for the balance.
A fraud investigator from the Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union in San Antonio contacted Bazaldua that day to discuss a “possible fraud involving a wire transfer,” the detective wrote. A woman who identified herself as Williams took the line and said she was Bazaldua’s niece and had helped him with his business.
The couple told conflicting and changing stories about where the money came from, according to the affidavit; at one point they said it was an inheritance sent from a relative in California to help them start a t-shirt business.
When a San Antonio Police Department white-collar detective asked Williams in December 2020 where the money was, “she never answered questions but said it was split into two checks for $58 $000 and deposited in accounts,” the affidavit reads. “She never confirms where the money was sent or deposited.”
Rodriguez used interviews and video footage obtained by authorities and the San Antonio bank to connect Bazaldua and Williams to the Los Alamos woman’s check.
Carmack-Altwies said that to his knowledge, the woman’s money has not been recovered.
It took local officials nearly a year to build a strong enough case to bring Bazaldua to New Mexico to face the charges.
Carmack-Altwies said a pause in grand jury proceedings amid the coronavirus pandemic required prosecutors to hold a preliminary hearing to indict Bazaldua and that he must be present for the proceedings. When he failed to show up, she said, her office was able to extradite him from Texas.
Bazaldua made his first appearance before Los Alamos Magistrate Pat Casados in January, according to court records.
Casados was willing to release him on $20,000 bail and conditions prohibiting him from possessing firearms or other weapons, consuming alcohol, and using, buying or possessing drugs. illegal. He also should have submitted to drug tests, according to court records.
But Bazaldua refused to post the bond or challenge it.
“He remained incarcerated after waiving his option for temporary release because he did not believe he could meet the conditions of release ordered,” a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office wrote in an email.