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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.

November 2018

Nov. 26

Felicia Yvonne Polk, 36, of Houston pleaded guilty in a Harris County district court to forging a $500 disaster relief check, receiving deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and four years' probation.

She 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.

Polk admitted cashing a phony check for Hurricane Harvey aid at a Houston supermarket in late September 2017. The check purportedly had been issued by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The store chain's corporate security department assisted CID with the investigation.

Nov. 14

Yexis A. Benavides Estrada, 24, of Houston was arrested for allegedly using a re-encoded charge card to unlawfully obtain and transport more than 100 gallons of diesel fuel worth almost $300 from a Katy convenience store.

A Katy police detective caught the suspect after he allegedly made three transactions using a "cloned" discount store gift card containing superimposed credit card information. The fuel was pumped into the large auxiliary tank of a flat-bed truck modified to receive, transport and dispense motor fuel, according to reports.

Benavides Estrada is charged with transporting motor fuel without a state-issued 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 him with felony credit card abuse. Officers confiscated 23 cards during the arrest.

A CID investigator assisted Katy police in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Nov. 13

Michel Rivero La Rosa, 34, of Houston was indicted for allegedly using a re-encoded credit card to unlawfully obtain more than 41 gallons of diesel fuel tax free from a Katy service station in mid-October.

Rivero is charged with motor fuel tax evasion and purchasing motor fuel tax free without authorization, both of which are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

During a traffic stop, officers discovered a fuel port protruding from the rear of the suspect's flatbed truck. The vehicle had been modified with an auxiliary fuel tank, pump and nozzles enabling it to receive, transport and dispense fuel, according to investigators. They confiscated 29 "cloned" credit cards from the suspect but found no license or cargo manifest as required by state law.

CID assisted Katy police in investigating the case, which is pending prosecution in Fort Bend County.

Nov. 7

Reynier Salcedo Milanes, 37, of Houston was arrested for allegedly using re-encoded charge cards to unlawfully obtain large quantities of diesel fuel from a Baytown convenience store and concealing it in an auxiliary tank hidden in the bed of his pickup truck.

He 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.

The case is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Nov. 5

Francisco Javier Aguiar-Leon, 48, of Katy was indicted for allegedly using a re-encoded credit card to unlawfully obtain more than 52 gallons of diesel fuel worth $150 from a Katy truck stop in late September.

An employee reportedly observed the defendant placing a pump nozzle directly into a hose connected to an auxiliary "bladder" concealed in the rear passenger area of a van. It had been modified to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of fuel.

Aguiar-Leon is charged with the enhanced offense of motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

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

Maylet Aguilera, 27, and Luismel Morales-Figueroa, 26, both of Katy, were indicted for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to unlawfully obtain almost 66 gallons of diesel fuel worth $200 from a Katy truck stop in late September.

The pair each are charged with motor fuel tax evasion and purchasing motor fuel tax free without authorization. Each offense is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

An employee and an off-duty police officer reportedly observed the defendants pumping fuel into an auxiliary "bladder" concealed in the bed of a pickup truck. It reportedly had been modified to receive, transport and dispense large quantities of fuel. Several credit cards not belonging to the defendants were confiscated during their subsequent arrest.

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

Nov. 1

Andre Cano, 35, a Harlingen auto dealer, was indicted for retaining tens of thousands of dollars in taxes and fees collected on sales of 73 vehicles in 2016.

The owner of Harlingen Texas Motor City allegedly failed to remit more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 in motor vehicle sales tax collections and almost $8,200 in vehicle title and registration fees collected, according to the two-count indictment.

He is charged with failure to remit taxes collected, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, as well as misapplication of fiduciary property, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The case is pending prosecution in Cameron County.

Arnel Garcia-Fernandez, 29, and Juan Gelsi Corrales, 39, both of Pflugerville, pleaded guilty in a Travis County district court and were sentenced to two years' probation for unlawfully obtaining almost 800 gallons of diesel fuel from three Austin convenience stores in February 2017.

They each admitted to concealing motor fuel without paying the taxes due, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

During a 10-day period in early February of last year, on three separate occasions the pair pumped more than 200 gallons of diesel fuel out of underground storage tanks into an auxiliary tank concealed inside a modified van operated by Garcia-Fernandez. Corrales drove a blocking vehicle and acted as a lookout, according to investigators' reports.

Dismissed in the plea agreement were charges of 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 Round Rock Police Department assisted CID with the investigation.


October 2018

Oct. 31

Osmel Enrique Rodriguez-Escalona, 33, of Houston was arrested for allegedly using re-encoded credit cards to unlawfully obtain large quantities of diesel fuel from two Katy service stations.

For failing to produce the required permit, he 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 Katy police in the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Alexander Rosales Guerrero, 21, of Houston was arrested for allegedly using re-encoded credit cards to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel from a Katy service station.

Officers discovered a "bladder" containing diesel in the bed of the suspect's pickup truck. The vehicle had been modified with auxiliary pumps and nozzles enabling it to receive and dispense fuel, according to investigators.

For acting as a motor fuel transporter without the required permit, Guerrero is charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license. The offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID assisted Katy police in the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Oct. 30

Yudeyvis Rodriguez-Galban, 40, of Houston was arrested for allegedly using a re-encoded credit card to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel at a Katy service station.

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

Officers found 35 "cloned" credit cards in the suspect's possession but no permits or cargo manifests.

For acting as a transporter, Rodriguez-Galban 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 felony credit card abuse.

CID assisted Katy police in the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Oct. 23

Deepak Chalise, 48, of Irving was arrested for allegedly buying and transporting for resale cigarettes, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products without paying applicable state taxes.

Chalise, who owns and operates grocery stores in Tyler and Frankston, is accused of possessing sizable quantities of untaxed tobacco at his Tyler store. An investigator confiscated dozens of cans of untaxed smokeless tobacco and 163 packs of cigarettes there bearing Louisiana tax stamps. Seized from the Frankston store were several packages of pipe tobacco for sale at a price less than the tax liability, reports show.

Chalise is facing two charges of possessing tobacco on which more than $50 in taxes are due and one charge each of unlawful cigarette and tobacco product transportation. All three offenses are third-degree felonies punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. He also is charged with unstamped cigarette possession, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The five cases are pending prosecution in Smith and Anderson counties.

Oct. 18

Daril Gonzalez Martinez, 30, of Houston pleaded guilty in a Harris County district court and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and four years' probation for using re-encoded credit cards to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel from a Katy service station in May.

Martinez admitted to acting as a motor fuel transporter without the required permit, thereby engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license. The offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. He also was ordered to pay court costs.

Officers discovered a "bladder" containing diesel in the bed of the suspect's vehicle, which had been modified with auxiliary pumps and nozzles enabling it to receive and dispense fuel. Multiple "cloned" cards were recovered.

Billy Gerald Hill, 75, of Edinburg, pleaded guilty in a Hidalgo County district court and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and 10 years' probation for not remitting motor vehicle taxes and fees. He also was fined $250 and ordered to pay more than $58,000 in restitution and perform 120 hours of community service.

The auto dealer admitted keeping more than $53,000 in taxes collected on 67 vehicles sold in 2016 and 2017. The offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Hill also pleaded guilty to misapplication of fiduciary property for withholding $7,500 in vehicle title and registration fees. He was given five years' probation and fined $250 for that offense, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

Oct. 17

Michel Larosa Rivero, 34, of Houston was arrested for allegedly using a re-encoded credit card to unlawfully obtain more than 41 gallons of diesel fuel from a Katy service station.

Officers discovered a fuel port protruding from the rear of the suspect's flatbed truck. The vehicle had been modified with an auxiliary fuel tank, pump and nozzles enabling it to receive and dispense fuel, according to investigators. They confiscated 29 "cloned" credit cards from the suspect.

By acting as a motor fuel transporter without the required permit, Rivero is charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license. The offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID assisted Katy police in the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Fort Bend County.

Oct. 16

Jose Andres Aguilera-Rojas, 62, of Austin pleaded guilty in a Comal County district court and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and 10 years' probation for unlawfully obtaining approximately 150 gallons of diesel fuel in March 2017.

By not paying the backup tax, Aguilera-Rojas committed 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 was fined $2,000, assessed court costs and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.

Oct. 15

Juan Carlos Salazar Pelegrin, 45, of Houston was indicted for allegedly transporting approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel without proper documentation in late August.

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

Upon stopping his pickup truck for an apparent traffic violation, Katy police reportedly discovered a concealed auxiliary storage tank in the truck bed. Although claiming the fuel inside had been acquired at the direction of his work supervisor, the suspect allegedly could produce no paperwork authorizing its possession. He subsequently declined an interview with a CID investigator.

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

Noriel Del Valle Perez, 36, of Katy was indicted for motor fuel tax evasion for allegedly using three re-encoded credit cards to unlawfully obtain 169 gallons of diesel fuel from a Katy service station in August without paying the required backup tax.

The offense is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Local authorities also are pursuing felony credit card abuse charges related to the unlawful purchases made with three of the 11 "cloned" cards confiscated from the suspect.

A store manager alerted Katy police upon observing the defendant using multiple cards to activate a fuel pump. He allegedly pumped diesel fuel into concealed "sidesaddle" compartments flanking the bed of a large flatbed truck modified to receive, transport and dispense motor fuel, according to reports.

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

Arian Pereda, 37, of Austin and Adriel Loriga Garcia, 29, of Port Arthur were indicted for allegedly using a re-encoded fleet credit card to unlawfully obtain more than 92 gallons of diesel fuel worth almost $265 from a Katy truck stop in mid-September.

The defendants are charged with two offenses: transporting motor fuel without shipping documents or a cargo manifest, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; and 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.

After observing the pair fueling a large box truck and subsequently pulling them over, a Katy police officer discovered a false wooden wall in the vehicle's rear cargo area. Concealed behind the wall were three canisters connected to the main supply tank, plus a pump and hose, all consistent with receiving, transporting and dispensing fuel, according to investigators.

Officers also confiscated 45 "cloned" credit cards and two "skimmer" devices used to capture charge card numbers from electronic-pay machines such as gas pumps.

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

Oct. 12

Ramon Adalberto Aguero-Velazco, 49, of Houston was indicted for engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license for allegedly acting as an unlawful motor fuel transporter in December 2017.

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

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

CID assisted Houston police in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Oct. 3

Luis Perez Delarosa, 21, of Houston was indicted for engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a license for allegedly acting as a unlawful motor fuel transporter in July 2018.

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

A Houston police officer stopped the defendant at a service station after observing him pumping diesel fuel into an auxiliary tank concealed in his pickup truck. An inspection revealed that the vehicle had been modified to transport large quantities of motor fuel. Investigators confiscated 24 "cloned" credit cards from the defendant, reports show.

CID assisted Houston police in the investigation of the case, which is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Oct. 2

Ntahokagiye Edmond, 28, of Houston pleaded guilty in a Hays County district court to stealing more than $300 worth of diesel fuel in 2016. He received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and four years' probation and was fined $1,500.

Edmond was convicted of theft of more than $2,500 but less than $30,000, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

Two charges alleging motor fuel tax evasion for failure to pay backup tax, both second-degree felonies punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000, were dismissed in the plea agreement.

In August 2016, Edmond used three different re-encoded, prepaid debit/gift cards to acquire diesel fuel from a Hays County service station and pump it into storage tanks concealed in a box truck.

Marcos Urdaneta, 53, a Fort Worth auto dealer, was arrested for allegedly submitting fraudulent car title applications that understated the sales prices of three vehicles sold in 2016 and 2017.

The suspect allegedly 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.

Urdaneta faces 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.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

Oct. 1

Brenda L. Salinas, 34, a Brownsville auto dealer, was indicted for allegedly withholding more than $20,000 in taxes and fees collected on vehicles sold in 2016 and 2017.

She is accused of failing to complete 86 title transfers and not remitting more than $22,000 in motor vehicle sales tax and vehicle title and registration fee collections. The offense is 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 Cameron County.

Ronney Vera, 27, of Miami, Fla. was indicted for allegedly acquiring approximately 250 gallons of gasoline unlawfully from a store in Thrall.

Williamson County sheriff's deputies caught the suspect a block away from the store. He allegedly used a fuel pump to siphon the gas from the store's underground storage tanks into one of two 300-gallon "tote tanks" concealed in the back of a panel van.

Vera is charged with 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.

The case is pending prosecution in Williamson County.

Roberto Talavera-Guerra, 38, of Austin pleaded guilty in a Williamson County district court to concealing motor fuel. He was credited with jail time served and ordered to pay court costs.

He was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both. It is included within the original offense of motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Dismissed in the plea agreement was a related felony credit card abuse charge punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

Talavera-Guerra acted as lookout for his co-defendant, Yulier Tamayo-Benitez, 34, also of Austin. They were accused of using a re-encoded credit card to unlawfully acquire 177 gallons of diesel fuel worth $400 from an Austin convenience store and pumping it into an auxiliary tank hidden in a pickup truck in March 2017.

Tamayo-Benitez pleaded guilty in January to felony credit card abuse and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and four years' probation. He also was ordered to perform 96 hours of community service and pay a $1,500 fine.

David Oyarzabal, 37, and Roberto Flores, 35, both of Laredo, pleaded guilty in a Karnes County court to concealing dyed diesel fuel in their vehicles in December 2017. They each received one-year suspended sentences and 12 months' probation and were ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and pay $500 fines plus court costs.

Motor fuel concealment is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both. Both defendants allegedly failed to pay taxes on the fuel and intended to use it while driving on public roadways.

In Texas, non-taxable diesel fuel is dyed red and authorized almost exclusively for off-road and/or agricultural use by permit-holders.

The cases arose from a report by an oil well drilling company that some of their employees were stealing dyed diesel. CID investigators discovered dyed diesel in the main supply and auxiliary fuel tanks of both defendants' pickup trucks, reports show. Oyarzabal claimed that the fuel was put into his truck by Flores, who said he bought it in Laredo for $1 a gallon.


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