October 15 2012
LOS ANGELES – A former public official who orchestrated a conspiracy involving his two brothers that stole more than $500,000 from the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison.
Victor Taracena, 41, who formerly resided in Burbank, was sentenced by United States District Judge Percy Anderson. In addition to the prison term, Judge Anderson ordered Victor Taracena to pay $526,727 in restitution to HACLA.
Victor Taracena managed HACLA’s construction program for public housing units occupied by disabled residents, and the money that he and his brothers stole was intended to build accommodations that complied with the American with Disabilities Act.
In June, Victor Taracena’s two brothers – Diego L. Taracena, 37, and Bennett A. Taracena, 32, both of Burbank – each were each sentenced to 21 months imprisonment.
All three Taracena brothers pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy charges. As part of the scheme, Diego and Bennett Taracena established four sham companies to get contracts from HACLA. After establishing bank accounts for those sham companies, Diego and Bennett Taracena accepted $526,727 from HACLA over the course of 3½ years. Despite receiving the payments, the companies did not perform any actual work.
During the scheme, Diego Taracena and Bennett Taracena paid kickbacks totaling approximately $106,975 to Victor Taracena. At least $30,000 of those kickback payments were wired to a Guatemalan bank account, and some of this money was used to purchase property in Guatemala. After being terminated by HACLA, Victor Taracena moved to Guatemala, where he lived until June, when he was expelled by Guatemala and returned to the United States to face charges in this case.
The case against the Taracenas was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Bayron T. Gilchrist
Release No. 12-142