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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Breaking the state's laws is a losing proposition. Read about those who found that out the hard way.

June 2019

June 25

Richard Harold Maliden, 48, of Bay St. Louis, Miss. was arrested in Pecos for allegedly hauling 110 gallons of untaxed dyed diesel fuel in a modified pickup truck without proper authorization.

During an inspection of the suspect’s truck, investigators reported discovering dyed diesel – in two 55-gallon drums, six 5-gallon cans and several “totes” in the truck bed, as well as the internal tank. The vehicle had been modified with a small battery, pump, nozzle and hose to dispense fuel, according to reports.

In Texas, untaxed diesel fuel is dyed red and authorized for purchase only by permit-holders almost exclusively for off-road use, mostly in agricultural equipment.

Maliden is charged with motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without shipping documents. Both offenses are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID assisted the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Reeves County.

June 21

Livan Miranda Garcia, 49, of Cypress pleaded guilty in a Waller County district court to unlawful motor fuel transportation and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction), two years’ probation, a $1,500 fine and 50 hours of community service, plus court costs and other related fees.

He admitted transporting motor fuel without shipping documents. A related motor fuel tax evasion charge was dismissed in the plea agreement. Both offenses are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Garcia was arrested last September for using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain large quantities of diesel fuel from a Waller truck stop. Local authorities alerted by loss prevention staff caught him under surveillance pumping diesel fuel into a cargo-style delivery truck containing two 250-gallon, plastic fuel "totes."

June 19

Pedro Ismael Serrano Echevarria, 39, of Addison was arrested for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to fraudulently obtain 148 gallons of diesel fuel worth almost $400 from a Gainesville convenience store on June 18.

The suspect allegedly was pumping diesel fuel into an external fuel cell in the bed of his pickup truck. Officers reportedly confiscated 24 charge cards during a search following his arrest.

A store employee alerted police to a theft in progress. The vehicle has been linked to prior fuel thefts earlier that week at the same location, according to reports.

Echevarria is charged with motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without shipping documents. Both offenses are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID assisted the Gainesville Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Cooke County.

June 17

Dennis Jorge Jimenez-Gallardo, 24, of Katy and Raul Milanes-Lahera, 45, of San Antonio were indicted for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel on April 30 from a chain convenience store in Katy.

For failing to pay the required backup tax, the defendants are charged with motor fuel tax evasion, as well as purchasing motor fuel intending to evade tax, both second-degree felonies punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. They also are charged with unlawful use of a criminal instrument (i.e., the truck), a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Local authorities also have charged both defendants with felony credit/debit card abuse.

After stopping the defendants’ pickup truck, officers discovered an auxiliary “bladder” tank welded onto the truck bed into which fuel was pumped directly. The truck had been further modified with hoses and nozzles to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of fuel, according to reports.

CID assisted the Katy Police Department in the investigation of the cases, which are pending prosecution in Fort Bend County.

June 12

Rishi Sikka, 39, of Killeen was indicted for untaxed tobacco possession last fall.

In October, investigators conducted a compliance inspection and discovered at the defendant’s Killeen store almost 500 individual tobacco products, including loose-leaf and hookah tobacco, on which more than $1,500 in taxes were owed. The defendant allegedly purchased the products from an Illinois distributor not licensed to sell in Texas, according to reports.

Sikka is charged with possession of tobacco products on which $50 or more in taxes are due, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The case is pending prosecution in Bell County.

Mohammad Khan, 68, of Temple was indicted for untaxed tobacco possession last fall.

In October, investigators discovered at the defendant’s Killeen store 48 individual tobacco products, including loose-leaf and hookah tobacco, on which more than $650 in taxes were owed. The defendant allegedly purchased the products from an Illinois distributor not licensed to sell in Texas, according to reports.

Khan is charged with possession of tobacco products on which $50 or more in taxes are due, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The case is pending prosecution in Bell County.

June 11

Juan Manuel Villarreal, 58, and Jesus Villarreal Reyes, 30, both of Rio Grande City, were arrested for allegedly using re-encoded credit cards to fraudulently obtain between them a total of more than 300 gallons of diesel fuel worth almost $900 from a chain discount store gas station in Rio Grande City.

Villarreal is accused of using four of 12 “cloned” cards confiscated by a state trooper during a subsequent traffic stop to acquire 151 gallons worth $400. Reyes allegedly made five transactions using four cloned cards to acquire 168 gallons worth $446.

Both suspects pumped the diesel into large, L-shaped auxiliary tanks hidden in the beds of their pickup trucks, as well as 10 five-gallon containers, according to reports. The vehicles were outfitted with hoses, nozzles and pumps consistent with storing, transporting and dispensing motor fuel.

For failing to pay the required backup taxes, the defendants each are charged with motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without shipping documents. Both offenses are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The Department of Public Safety assisted CID by apprehending the suspects in the case, which is pending prosecution in Starr County.

Justin Michael Strait, 31, of Galveston was indicted for failing to allow inspection of his business records for tobacco tax purposes in April.

He also is accused of selling tobacco without a permit and not paying tobacco taxes.

The defendant allegedly ignored verbal and written demands last spring from investigators who inspected his bar, Brew’s Brothers in Galveston. They seized tobacco products displayed for sale there because its state permit had expired.

Strait is charged with failure to produce records of tobacco sales for inspection, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. He also is charged with failure to possess a valid tobacco permit and non-payment of tobacco tax, both Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The case is pending prosecution in Galveston County.

June 7

Miguel Daniel Camejo-Suarez, 24, of Katy was indicted for allegedly driving a vehicle containing unlawfully acquired fuel on a public roadway in Brookshire.

Camejo-Suarez is charged with transporting motor fuel without a cargo manifest or proper shipping documents. The offense is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Investigators discovered an auxiliary tank “bladder” containing diesel fuel that was concealed in the bed of the defendant’s pickup truck. Reports show that the vehicle had been outfitted with hoses, pumps and nozzles to receive, transport and dispense motor fuel.

He allegedly used re-encoded charge cards to fraudulently obtain almost 112 gallons of diesel fuel worth more than $330 from a truck stop in late February. Officers reported confiscating multiple “cloned” cards upon his arrest.

The case is pending prosecution in Waller County.

Aliam Lazar de Armas Correa, 30, of Houston was indicted for allegedly driving a vehicle containing unlawfully acquired fuel on a public roadway in Hempstead.

He is charged with transporting motor fuel without a cargo manifest or proper shipping documents. The offense is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

A deputy sheriff observed the defendant pumping diesel directly into an auxiliary “bladder” hidden in the bed of his pickup truck. A search revealed that the vehicle had been modified with hoses, nozzles and pumps to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of motor fuel.

He allegedly used a re-encoded charge card to fraudulently obtain $100 worth of diesel fuel from a grocery store in late January. Officers reported confiscating multiple “cloned” cards upon his arrest.

The case is pending prosecution in Waller County.

June 6

Ibrahim Ghali, 32, of Grand Prairie was arrested for allegedly offering unstamped cigarettes for sale at his Fort Worth convenience store last spring.

During an inspection in mid-March, CID investigators reported finding 80 individual cigarettes in packs – some open – not bearing state tobacco stamps. One shelf of tobacco products was labeled “Turkey duty free sale only,” according to reports.

Ghali, the store’s owner/operator, is charged with possessing less than 10,000 unstamped cigarettes. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

Mirza Zubair Baig, 54, of Sherman was arrested for untaxed tobacco possession and for the lack of invoicing on tobacco displayed for sale at two Bonham convenience stores.

Investigators seized 139 bags of loose tobacco worth more than $3,000 during inspections at Lucky Food Center and Happy Kampers last March. The suspect, who owns and operates both businesses, did not produce any invoices showing taxes had been paid on the tobacco.

Baig is charged with two counts of possessing tobacco on which more than $50 in tax are due and with two counts of failure to maintain books and records of tobacco transactions. Both offenses are third-degree felonies punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The cases are pending prosecution in Fannin County.

June 4

Kory Brown Didear, 19, of Boling was indicted for allegedly faking purchases to cover almost $2,000 in thefts while working as a chain convenience store cashier in Wharton last fall.

The defendant, a former store employee, reportedly was recorded by a surveillance camera falsifying sales transaction records to keep cash registers balanced during a series of thefts in November and December 2018.

Didear is charged with making false entries into tax records, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Local authorities also have charged him with Class A misdemeanor theft of property.

The cases are pending prosecution in Wharton County.

June 4

Yudeyvis Rodriguez-Galban, 41, of Houston pleaded guilty in a Harris County district court to credit card abuse in a fuel theft case and was sentenced to a year in county jail.

He was convicted of a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years and a fine of up to $10,000, and credited with 102 days’ jail time served. Dismissed in the plea agreement was a related charge of engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Rodriguez-Galban used a re-encoded credit card to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel at a Katy service station last fall. Officers found 35 "cloned" credit cards in his possession but no transport permits or cargo manifests.

He was caught pumping diesel into the modified fuel port of a box truck. The fuel tank also had been modified to pull fuel into a plastic “tote” tank located beneath the vehicle's enclosed rear cargo area.

June 1

Ramon Diaz Oduardo, 54, of Opa-Locka, Fla., pleaded guilty in a Harris County district court to an unlawful motor fuel transaction and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, probated for four years, plus court costs and related fees.

He was convicted of engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a permit, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Authorities dismissed a related felony credit card abuse case in the plea agreement.

Oduardo used re-encoded credit cards to fraudulently obtain diesel fuel from a Houston gas station in late June 2018. Upon arrest, officers found 22 "cloned" charge cards in his possession. An auxiliary tank welded beneath the bed of his pickup truck had been modified to receive, transport and dispense motor fuel.

Osvaldo Efren Dominguez-Torrez, 29, of Georgetown pleaded guilty in a Williamson County district court to credit card abuse and was sentenced to 16 days in jail. He was credited with eight days served and ordered to pay court costs.

The offense was downgraded from a felony punishable for six months up to two years in a state jail, and a fine of up to $10,000, to a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both. Two other charges were dismissed in the plea agreement.

The defendant had been under indictment for motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without shipping documents. Both offenses are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

In February 2018, Dominguez-Torrez was arrested for using one of three re-encoded gift cards to unlawfully acquire diesel fuel at a Liberty Hill convenience store.

May 2019

May 31

Jose Gamboa Infante, 29, of Houston pleaded guilty in a Travis County district court to two fuel tax law violations and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction), five years’ probation and 100 hours of community service. He also was ordered to pay court costs and related fees.

Infante admitted to motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without proper documentation in 2017. Each offense is a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.“bladder” welded onto the truck bed into which fuel was pumped directly. The truck had been further modified with hoses and nozzles to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of fuel, according to reports.

Infante and a co-defendant were arrested on June 28, 2017 in Austin with 93 gallons of diesel fuel in the auxiliary tank of a pickup truck and four containers in the truck bed. They used “cloned” charge cards to obtain the fuel unlawfully.

May 30

Ali Ayad Sattar, 30, a Fort Worth auto dealer, was arrested for allegedly listing out-of-state addresses on title applications to avoid sales tax on three vehicles he sold earlier this year at BAN Auto Sales.

Investigators acting on a tip reported discovering three applications on which the suspect allegedly entered phony purchaser addresses in Louisiana, New Mexico and Michigan. The car buyers, all Texas residents, either had never lived there or no longer did so.

Sattar is charged with three counts each of vehicle registration forgery, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, and of tampering with a governmental record with intent to defraud, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

May 28

Lamond Trotter, 46, of Ogden, Ark. was arrested for allegedly offering tobacco products for sale without a permit in April at his shop near Texarkana.

The charge arose from a “sting” in which an employee of Mon’s E-cigs & Tobacco in Wake Village reportedly sold liquid nicotine to an undercover minor. During the operation, an investigator reported seeing cigars, cigarillos and other tobacco products on display. The suspect could not produce a permit for them, reportedly claiming he had not renewed the previous permit.

Trotter is charged with offering tobacco products for sale without a valid permit. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The Texarkana Police Department assisted CID with arresting and transporting the suspect to the county jail. The case is pending prosecution in Bowie County.

Steven Ronnie Bell, 75, of McKinney was arrested for allegedly operating gaming machines without a valid permit last December at his game room near McKinney.

Acting on a complaint, investigators inspected Winners Sweepstakes at a shopping center in Princeton. They reportedly found 11 coin-operated machines with currency readers that were not licensed or registered.

Bell is charged with possessing coin-operated amusement machines without a proper license or registration certificate. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The case is pending prosecution in Collin County.

May 23

Cody Raymond-Michael Johnson, 29, of Caddo Mills pleaded guilty in a Rockwall County district court to vehicle title forgery and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction), 30 months’ probation and 240 hours of community service. He also was fined $1,500 and ordered to pay court costs and related fees.

Johnson admitted to falsifying vehicle title applications, a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

In September 2016, the owner of Big City Auto Sales lied on vehicle title applications by understating the purchase prices. He entered incorrect information on applications for two of eight vehicles purchased from his dealership by a communications company.

May 21

Guillermo Enamorado, 49, and Alain Garcia-Cabrales, 28, both of Houston, were arrested for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain large quantities of diesel fuel from a chain convenience store in Pearland.

The store manager noticed a suspicious transaction at a pump involving a vehicle that had been there earlier. She notified Pearland police who arrested the suspects at and near the scene. They reportedly obtained almost 160 gallons of diesel fuel worth more than $400.

Officers discovered 100-gallon steel auxiliary tanks in the compartment of a box van driven by one of the suspects and in the bed of a pickup truck driven by the other suspect. Both vehicles had been modified with pumps and hoses to receive, transport and dispense motor fuel, according to reports, and bore temporary tags.

Officers confiscated 20 charge cards including a Disney Mickey Mouse gift card.

For failing to pay the backup tax, the pair each are charged with motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. They also are charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID assisted the Pearland Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Brazoria County.

May 16

Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez, 41, of Bryan was arrested for allegedly using another person’s Social Security number (SSN) to unlawfully obtain a state sales and use tax permit to open a business in College Station in 2013.

Rodriguez is charged with fraudulent use of identifying information, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The rightful SSN holder reportedly discovered the misuse when he applied for a tax permit in November 2018. Upon learning that his SSN already was associated with a company no longer in business, the victim contacted CID investigators. He told them that he believed the suspect was the same person he had reported to police years earlier for a similar offense.

The Bryan Police Department assisted CID with transporting the suspect to jail. The case is pending prosecution in Brazos County.

May 15

Jaime A. Castillo-Miranda, 30, of Galena Park was arrested for allegedly using a re-encoded credit card to unlawfully obtain large quantities of diesel fuel from a Baytown gas station.

Baytown police subsequently arrested the suspect at a chain convenience store.

Castillo-Miranda is charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Local authorities also are charging him with fraudulent use/possession of identifying information (i.e., fewer than five “cloned” cards), a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

CID assisted the Baytown Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Harris County.

May 10

Mohammad Salman, 55, of Highland Village was arrested for allegedly possessing tobacco on which more than $50 in state taxes were due and failing to keep proper purchase records.

He is charged with two possession violations and one books and records violation. Each offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

A routine inspection of the suspect’s Southlake tobacco shop in January revealed several containers and bags of loose tobacco that were not accurately invoiced. The suspect claimed to have bought the tobacco from a Dallas supplier, but investigators reported finding no evidence of same or any indication that tobacco taxes had been paid.

Invoices for tobacco and smoking pod purchases in August and November 2018 totaling almost $8,000 indicated that almost $300 in taxes had gone unpaid.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

May 6

Mohammed Talha Padela, 36, of Sugar Land pleaded guilty in a Harris County district court to tobacco tax evasion and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and two years’ probation. He also was ordered to pay court costs and other related fees.

Padela was found to be in possession of hundreds of packages of tobacco products on which more than $12,000 in taxes were owing. Possessing tobacco products on which more than $50 in taxes are due is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

In June 2018, Padela tried to sell a large quantity of tobacco products to a Houston distributor who alerted the Comptroller's office. CID conducted surveillance and discovered the tobacco products in the defendant's vehicle during a subsequent traffic stop.

May 3

Crystal Johnson, 46, a Weatherford auto dealer, was arrested for allegedly filing phony title documents and pocketing more than $2,100 in sales taxes collected from vehicle buyers in 2018.

She is charged with failure to remit tax collected and with tampering with a governmental record. Each offense is a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The suspect is accused of altering the sales prices on 20 vehicle title applications submitted between March and December 2018 and withholding the motor vehicle sales tax collected on each transaction.

CID assisted the Hood County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Hood County.

May 1

Marcos Enrique Urdaneta, 54, a Fort Worth auto dealer, pleaded guilty in a Tarrant County district court to car title fraud and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and five years’ probation. He also was fined $500 and ordered to pay plus court costs and related fees.

He admitted to three charges of providing false information, each a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Urdaneta submitted fraudulent vehicle title applications that understated the sales prices of three vehicles he sold in 2016 and 2017. He collected motor vehicle sales taxes from the buyers, then changed tax reports to reflect the false prices – thereby lowering the taxes owed – and pocketed the difference.

Tejon Adams, 45, of Beckville and Larry Allen, 41, and Kenneth Harris, 52, both of Linden, were arrested for allegedly transporting motor fuel unlawfully last August without a license and without paying state taxes.

Allen was arrested by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office. A few days earlier, sheriff’s deputies arrested Harris, and state troopers arrested Adams during a traffic stop in Montgomery County.

The trio is accused of unlawfully acquiring and delivering thousands of gallons of diesel fuel from a distributorship for whom they worked.

Each defendant is under indictment for motor fuel tax evasion and for transporting motor fuel without proper shipping documents, both second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. They also are charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The cases are pending prosecution in Harrison County.

April 2019

April 30

Dennis Jorge Jimenez-Gallardo, 24, of Katy and Raul Milanes-Lahera, 45, of San Antonio were arrested for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel from a Katy convenience store.

A search revealed that the vehicle contained an auxiliary tank “bladder” welded onto the truck bed into which fuel was pumped directly. The truck had been further modified with hoses and nozzles to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of fuel, according to reports.

For failing to pay the required backup tax, the suspects are charged with motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. They also are charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license and unlawful use of a criminal instrument (i.e., the truck), both third-degree felonies punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Local authorities also are charging both suspects with felony credit/debit card abuse.

CID assisted the Katy Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Fort Bend County.

April 27

Judy Kannady, 72, of Tomball was arrested for allegedly selling 69 packs of unstamped Russian cigarettes for $130 to an undercover officer.

She was arrested outside a Tomball drug store during a “buy-bust sting” operation conducted by CID investigators. They exchanged cash for the cigarettes, which were inside a brown paper bag.

An investigator posing as a customer had pre-arranged the purchase in response to a post on an online advertising website. The suspect previously had been warned by telephone to remove the ad, which she repeatedly claimed to have done, according to reports.

Kannady explained that she bought the cigarettes online for her son because they contain low levels of tar and nicotine. She claimed she was selling them because she wanted him to quit smoking.

The suspect is charged with selling unstamped cigarettes and selling cigarettes without a permit. Each offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The case is pending prosecution in Harris County.

April 26

Miguel Pulido, 45, of Katy was arrested for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain almost 500 gallons of diesel fuel worth more than $1,200 from several Katy service stations.

Local police reportedly witnessed multiple purchases being made by the driver of a box truck at four locations before a constable conducted a traffic stop. The officer confiscated 75 “cloned” credit cards and discovered two, 250-gallon “tote tanks” concealed in the cargo area and filled almost to capacity. The vehicle also had been modified with hoses, pumps and nozzles designed to receive, transport and dispense motor fuel, according to reports.

Pulido is charged with possessing more than 50 items of identifying information (i.e., the fraudulent cards), a first-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for five to 99 years or life and a fine of up to $10,000. He also is charged with motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

CID assisted the Katy Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Harris County.

April 25

Donavin Heard, 56, of Long Beach, Calif. was indicted for allegedly trying to defraud the state out of almost $850,000 belonging to a company no longer doing business in Texas.

He is charged with using deception to secure a document affecting property and with attempted theft of property, both worth more than $300,000. The former offense is a first-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for five to 99 years or life and a fine of up to $10,000. The latter is a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

The defendant reportedly reactivated a suspended corporation and allegedly submitted forged documents to the Comptroller's office authorizing and notarizing transfer of ownership to himself of all the company’s equity and shares held in trust by the Unclaimed Property Division (UPD). CID investigators determined that a corporate director and a notary public had not signed the documents.

The defendant’s attempt to pay fees failed due to insufficient funds, and he requested transfer in person of company funds that had been on deposit before reverting to UPD. Consequently, Comptroller's staff generated a check and arranged pick-up at the Rusk Building in downtown Austin. Upon signing a receipt, Heard was arrested by CID investigators posing as treasury officials and troopers of the Department of Public Safety.

The case is pending prosecution in Travis County.

Fnu Ahmed-Dhanani, 37, of Euless was arrested for allegedly falsifying a renewal application for an amusement machine license.

The suspect reportedly submitted an application with two incorrect addresses for his places of business and recordkeeping; one was a convenience store, the other a barber shop under construction, both in a strip mall in southwest Fort Worth. He also allegedly used a variation of his name, but not his full legal name, on the application.

Amusement machine operators in Texas must either be licensed to operate machines statewide or certified to do so at specific locations.

Ahmed-Dhanani is charged with attempting to obtain a license by fraud, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000; and with tampering with a governmental record, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

April 23

Shateka Modries Johnson Nixon, 30, of Houston pleaded guilty in a Harris County district court to forgery and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and three years’ probation. She also was ordered to pay $500 in restitution plus court costs.

Nixon was charged with forgery of a government instrument, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

She admitted cashing a phony $500 Hurricane Harvey relief check at a Houston supermarket in September 2017. The check purportedly had been issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

April 18

Leobardo V. Rodriguez, 46, of Pecos was indicted for motor fuel tax evasion for allegedly obtaining untaxed diesel fuel unlawfully from an oilfield lease site in Reeves County two years ago.

Evading motor fuel tax is a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

In late March of 2017, the defendant is alleged to have cut a hose from a fuel tank on the property and dispensed red-dyed diesel fuel into his pickup truck without lawful authorization. Non-taxable diesel is dyed red and allowed only for off-road or agricultural use by permit-holders.

Rodriguez had recently completed deferred adjudication for delivering dyed diesel fuel into a motor vehicle for highway use, a third-degree felony, according to a sworn statement.

His arrest arose from an ongoing oilfield theft investigation being conducted jointly by the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, company security and the Texas Rangers. They contacted CID for assistance with the motor fuel tax aspect of the case.

The case is pending prosecution in Reeves County.

Rauly Michel Veranes, 30, of Houston was indicted for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel from a Pearland store in January.

Local police reported witnessing the purchases and arrested the defendant on the premises. His pickup truck had been modified to conceal an auxiliary tank and other equipment designed to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of motor fuel, according to reports.

Rauly is charged with motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Local authorities also are charging him with felony credit card abuse.

CID assisted the Pearland Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Brazoria County.

Marcelino Montano Hidalgo, 66, and Bienvenido Montano Hidalgo, 50, both of Houston, were indicted for allegedly using re-encoded credit cards to unlawfully obtain more than 95 gallons of diesel fuel worth almost $250 from a chain convenience store in Pearland in March.

Each of the defendants is charged with motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; and with engaging in a fuel transaction without a license, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Local authorities also have charged them with fraudulently using identification and engaging in organized criminal activity.

The defendants and two other suspects were operating a pickup truck and a box truck, both of which had been modified with hoses, nozzles, electric pumps and auxiliary tanks mounted in the beds to receive, transport and dispense fuel, according to reports. The foursome were reportedly passing re-encoded charge cards to each other between the vehicles.

Store employees observed the illegal transactions and alerted Pearland police. Officers reported that the suspects attempted to conceal and dispose of their wallets and the 49 “cloned” cards recovered when police arrived.

CID assisted the Pearland Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Brazoria County.

Deepak Chalise, 48, of Irving was indicted for allegedly possessing large amounts of tobacco last October on which more than $50 in taxes were due.

The defendant, who owns and operates tobacco shops in Tyler and Frankston, also was indicted for allegedly transporting both unstamped cigarettes and untaxed tobacco products from Louisiana into Texas on or before Oct. 3, 2018. The products included unstamped cigarettes, cigarillos, loose tobacco and snuff, according to investigators who discovered the contraband during inspections.

These cases are pending prosecution in Smith County. Chalise also is under indictment on another possession charge stemming from a separate incident that occurred on the same date. That case is pending prosecution in Anderson County.

All four offenses are third-degree felonies punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

April 17

Jose Manuel Martinez, 30, and Jose Luis Marquez, 19, both of San Elizario, were indicted for allegedly using an oilfield pipeline company’s fleet fuel card to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel for resale from a Fort Stockton convenience store on two occasions last June.

Acting on information from a cooperating witness, investigators set up a “sting” operation on June 21 using a truck tractor pulling a trailer, both of which the witness provided. One of the defendants used the card at a pump from which he dispensed fuel into the truck, while the other kept watch in a car parked nearby. On the witness’ prearranged signal, officers first detained the suspect at the pump, then the lookout.

For not paying the applicable backup tax, each defendant is charged with two counts of motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Marquez also is charged with two counts of credit card abuse, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

CID assisted the Texas Rangers in the investigation of the cases, which are pending prosecution in Pecos County.

April 16

Tariq Sabah Khalifa, 37, of Watauga was arrested for allegedly operating “8-liner” video games without state-issued decals and for having unstamped cigarettes at his Fort Worth convenience store.

Acting on a tip, CID investigators inspecting the premises observed six of the gaming devices in operation, none of which bore current tax decals. They also discovered two cigarillo boxes containing 91 cigarette sticks with no evidence of taxes having been paid.

Khalifa is charged with operating coin-operated amusement machines without a valid state license or registration certificate and with possessing less than 10,000 unstamped cigarettes. Each offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

April 15

Suraj Thapa, 29, of Irving was arrested for allegedly operating gaming machines unlawfully at his Fort Worth tobacco shop.

During an inspection, CID investigators observed a game room containing several machines. No state license or registration certificate were visible, nor could employees produce them, according to reports.

Thapa is charged with operating coin-operated amusement machines without a general business license or registration certificate, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

April 13

Barbaro Rafael Marquez-Dominguez, 42, of Austin was arrested for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain approximately 227 gallons of diesel fuel worth more than $650 from a Baytown truck stop.

A store manager claims to have witnessed the purchases and shut down the pump during the last of three transactions. The manager flagged down an off-duty police officer who had driven onto the premises and pursued the suspect when he fled in a flatbed pickup truck.

Upon arresting him, the officer discovered that his vehicle had been modified to conceal a hidden storage tank, hose, pump and metered nozzle designed to receive, transport and dispense motor fuel. No license or permit to transport fuel were found or produced, according to reports.

Marquez-Dominguez is charged with motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without a cargo manifest or proper shipping documents. Both offenses are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. He also is charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a permit, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID assisted the Baytown Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Chambers County.

April 12

Jose Arnoldo Llanso Varona, 42, of Austin was indicted for allegedly throwing 17 re-encoded gift cards out the passenger-side window of a pickup truck during a traffic stop after a fuel theft at an Austin convenience store in August 2017.

He is charged with tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

His alleged accomplice had pumped 89 gallons of diesel fuel worth $200 into an auxiliary tank concealed in the truck bed in order to avoid paying backup motor fuels tax.

CID officers reportedly observed the pair earlier attempting to use some of the cards to acquire fuel at a service station in Bastrop County.

The case is pending prosecution in Travis County.

April 11

Ramon Adalberto Aguero-Velazco, 49, of Houston pleaded guilty in a Harris County district court to engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and two years’ probation. He also was ordered to pay court costs.

The offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Aguero-Velazco was convicted of acting as an unlawful motor fuel transporter in December 2017.

During a traffic stop in Houston, a police officer observed an auxiliary fuel tank "bladder" in the bed of his pickup truck. An inspection revealed that the vehicle had been modified to transport motor fuel.

CID assisted the Houston Police Department in the investigation of the case.

April 4

Elder Boney Ramirez Jimenez, 46, an El Paso auto dealer, pleaded guilty in an El Paso district court to falsifying temporary dealer tags last spring in order to conduct business despite having an expired state license. He was sentenced to six months in jail, three years’ probation, 200 hours of community service and a $4,000 fine.

He admitted to fraudulent tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID investigators determined that Ramirez Jimenez cut out information and used correction fluid to make unauthorized changes to the tags he was issuing while continuing to sell vehicles without renewing his state license. They discovered the altered documents during a May 2018 tax inspection of Boney Auto Sales in El Paso.

April 1

Brandon Alexander Maravella, 20, of Houston was indicted for allegedly using a re-encoded charge card to unlawfully obtain almost 54 gallons of diesel fuel from a Katy convenience store in January.

For failing to pay the required backup tax, Maravella is charged with motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. He also is charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license and unlawful use of a criminal instrument (i.e., the truck), both third-degree felonies punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

A store employee reported observing the defendant using multiple cards to pump diesel fuel into a pickup truck three times in less than an hour. When city police confronted the defendant, he allegedly admitted being paid by an unidentified relative to use fraudulent cards to purchase and transport diesel fuel.

A search revealed that the vehicle contained two, 100-gallon auxiliary tanks in the truck bed. It had been further modified to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of fuel. Several “cloned” gift cards were confiscated, according to reports.

Local authorities also have charged him with felony credit/debit card abuse.

CID assisted the Katy Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Fort Bend County.

Warren Raymond Nugent, 58, a Dallas concrete contractor, pleaded guilty in a Collin County district court to attempting to violate motor fuel tax laws and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction), six months’ probation, 20 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine.

He also was ordered to pay court costs and surrender his dyed diesel fuel permit.

The Texcon president was accused of the felony offenses of unlawfully obtaining and using dyed diesel fuel and failing to pay taxes due. He admitted to committing a lesser, included Class B misdemeanor in exchange for dismissal of the two felonies in the plea agreement.

Nugent had been indicted for purchasing motor fuel with intent to evade tax, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, and for using dyed diesel fuel on a public roadway despite having submitted a signed statement to the contrary, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Prosecutors dropped a second-degree felony motor fuel tax evasion charge.

Frisco police stopped Nugent's truck in November of 2017 for equipment violations and impounded it. Officers found red-dyed diesel (RDD) in the “sidesaddle” motor fuel supply tanks.

Subsequent investigation revealed RDD purchases from two fuel companies under a signed statement on file that the fuel would not be used to operate motor vehicles on public roadways. Non-taxable diesel fuel is dyed red and authorized exclusively for off-road and/or agricultural use by permit-holders.

Ronney Vera, 28, of Miami, Fla. pleaded guilty in a Williamson County district court to stealing approximately 250 gallons of diesel fuel from a convenience store in Thrall last summer. He was sentenced to two days in jail and assessed court costs.

He admitted to committing property theft of between $750 and $2,500, a Class A misdemeanor.

Vera had been indicted for motor fuel tax evasion, as well as engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license by acting as a motor fuel transporter without the requisite documentation. Both offenses are third-degree felonies punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; they were dismissed in the plea agreement.

On July 1, 2018, Williamson County sheriff's deputies caught Vera a block away from the store. He had used a fuel pump to siphon the diesel from its underground storage tanks into one of two 300-gallon "tote tanks" concealed in the back of a panel van.

Layden Garrett Walker, 32, a San Antonio car dealer, was indicted for not remitting motor vehicle sales taxes and fees collected in 2016 and 2017.

The Deuces Auto owner allegedly withheld taxes and registration and title transfer fees totaling more than $8,000 collected on sales of 19 vehicles from February 2016 through May 2017.

He is charged with failure to remit tax collected of more than $1,500 but less than $20,000, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The case is pending prosecution in Bexar County.

Armando Carmona, 55, of Harlingen was indicted for unlawfully transporting approximately 900 gallons of dyed diesel fuel from Brownsville to Weslaco in November 2017.

He is charged with motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without proper shipping documents, both of which are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID investigators had followed the defendant’s pickup truck after observing it in a store parking lot. The truck’s entire bed was covered by an auxiliary storage tank, making it appear to be a fuel truck despite having no exterior markings.

Non-taxable diesel fuel is dyed red and allowed only for off-road or agricultural use by permit-holders.

The case is pending prosecution in Cameron County.


Case News Archive »

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