NAFTA graft: Cross-border trucking company officers indicted

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Friday, September 06, 2013

Federal prosecutors say three company officers of a cross-border trucking operation cooked the books to ensure the flow of loan money. The scheme eventually racked up $26 million in losses for GE Capital Corp. – a subsidiary of General Electric – one of the world’s largest companies.

According to a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Texas’ Southern District, Sergio Lagos, 44, Aurelio “Jim” Aleman, 59, and Oscar Barbosa, 50, were arrested after being indicted on six counts of federal wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The three men, all from McAllen, TX, were company officers with USA Dry Van Logistics – a cross-border trucking company that serves the maquiladora industry. Lagos was CEO, Aleman was chief operations officer, and Barbosa was the company controller.

From March 2008 through January 2010, Lagos, Aleman and Barbosa “schemed to conceal” the company’s declining profits and financial performance from lender GECC. GECC subsequently loaned the company hundreds of thousands of dollars weekly through a line of revolving credit – including some money the company used to falsely represent its financial performance.

In January 2010, USA Dry Van Logistics had secured an increase of the line of credit to $38 million, and the three defendants allegedly submitted falsified “borrowing base certificates” to GECC that inflated the company’s actual accounts receivable numbers.  Lagos, Aleman and Barbosa allegedly directed employees to doctor account receivables and forge invoices for dollar amounts that weren’t true.

“When the truth about USADV’s operations and finances were revealed, USADV went into bankruptcy,” the news release stated.

USADV reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is operating under new ownership.

Each count in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI.

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