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Ex-El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos charged in alleged real estate fraud in New Mexico

By Leonard Martinez
Published On: Jan 31 2014 10:35:34 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2014 11:24:49 AM CST

Noon show interview with Dona Ana Sheriff's official on Cobos arrest, charges

EL PASO, Texas -

Former El Paso County Judge Antonio "Anthony" Cobos was arrested Friday morning at his home in El Paso on fraud charges in New Mexico, according to officials with the Dona Ana County Sheriff's office and U.S. Marshals office.

U.S. Marshals deputies took 46-year-old Cobos into custody without incident around 8 a.m. He waived extradition and was booked into the Dona Ana County Jail at 12:54 p.m. on Friday.

Cobos is being held on a $50,000 cash-only bond and he is expected to be arraigned Monday morning.

The Alleged Fraud Incident In Chaparral, New Mexico

Cobos is charged with a two counts of 2nd degree felony fraud from an alleged incident in Chaparral, New Mexico. The new charges are not connected to the federal charges Cobos pleaded guilty to last year.

"The two 2nd degree counts of fraud involve a home that Mr. Cobos did not own but allegedly had sold on a real estate contract," Dona Ana County Sheriff's Spokeswoman Kelly Jameson told ABC-7's noon show Friday.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Cobos after a Chaparral couple was notified that the mortgage holder was foreclosing on property they lived on because payments had not been made since Nov. 2012. The couple claimed to have bought this land and mobile home they lived in in Chaparral from Cobos.

The couple had also reportedly paid Cobos seven additional payments after the loan went into default.

Doña Ana County Sheriff’s investigators have obtained receipts from the couple that detail each payment made to Cobos.

Dona Ana County Sheriff's officials say an investigation revealed that Cobos was never the legal lien holder of the property and that the property reportedly belonged to his dead stepmother.

“The couple allegedly entered into a residential lease purchase agreement with Cobos in August 2009, making monthly payments to Cobos in the amount of $506. The terms of the contract also included annual lump sum payments to Cobos. Altogether, the monthly installments and lump sum payments totaled $43,290.26,” according to a news release by the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office.

Will Cobos Still Go To Federal Prison On Feb. 11?

Jameson said Cobos' having to turn himself in to the federal Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 11 made things escalate a little quicker so that he could face these fraud charges.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Scott Williams  told ABC-7 what happens as far as Cobos turning himself in on Feb. 11 depends on the bond set on these fraud charges.

If Cobos posts bond on the new charges he will have to report to federal prison in Colorado as per his federal sentencing.

If he doesn't post bond, he will have to let the Bureau of Prisons know that he won't be able to report on time because he is in jail on the new charges.

Cobos, who pleaded guilty to public corruption in El Paso in early January, was sentenced to four years in federal prison and must pay a $10,000 fine.

Cobos had been sent to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 11.

The Federal Corruption Case

Cobos, who pleaded guilty to public corruption, was sentenced Jan. 3 to four years in prison and must pay a $10,000 fine.

His accomplice, Lorenzo Aguilar, was also sentenced to four years in prison but his fine is $50,000.

Both men admitted their guilt and apologized during their sentencing hearing, but would not say whether he made any decisions under the influence while being county judge.

In the courtroom on Jan. 3, Cobos pleaded for forgiveness.

"I am a different man from what I was 7 years ago. Different yesterday, different today, different tomorrow and I will never be the same man I was then," Cobos said on Jan. 3.

Cobos revealed he had a longtime alcohol and drug abuse problem spanning 20 years. He also said he has found God. 

"Even though this is going to be very painful for me and my family, things happen for a reason, often out of our own being ... But I just want to encourage all El Pasoans who are having family problems ... Who are having difficulty finding a job, difficulty with your marriage, its ok to pray. It's ok to pray because there's a day after tomorrow," he said.

In September of last year, Cobos pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

He was accused of receiving $4,500 in bribes from lobbyists in exchange for his vote as the head of the El Paso Commissioners Court.

Aguilar also pleaded guilty to conspiracy after being accused of bribing Cobos while he was county judge.

"I come to you with a heavy heart," Aguilar said before apologizing to the U.S. and his family for the damage he had caused.

Both men will be allowed to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on February 11.

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