Yuma, AZ.- Frank Ruiz is scheduled to be sentenced Monday for his part in defrauding AEA Federal Credit Union. Ruiz faces 15 years in federal prison for admitting to taking part in a kickback scheme.
In June, he plead guilty to getting millions of dollars in fraudulent business loans from AEA's former Vice President of Business Lending William Liddle.
As part of the plea agreement, if Ruiz fully cooperates, the Justice Department can propose a lighter sentence.
According to a sentence recommendation motion filed by the government on March 2nd, prosecutors were more than satisfied with Ruiz's contribution in this case. They stated his testimony in January against the Liddle's was very important and lead to the many counts of conviction against the couple.
They're recommending 12 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
Something that's not sitting well with others, "10 years should be the sentence" says Don Templeman, a former friend and employee of Ruiz.
Templeman wrote a letter to the judge asking to please not be lenient in her sentencing. The Yuma resident says he knows first hand how Ruiz uses people to promote his self interests at any cost.
"Frank is an expert at deceiving people, that's how he got where he went." Templeman goes on to say, "he's a wheeler dealer, he can schmooze anyone he wants to schmooze."
Tom Martin, President and CEO of AEA, says he is incredibly disappointed and blindsided with the governments slap on the wrist sentencing recommendation.
In a letter he submitted to Arizona's acting U.S. District Attorney, Martin says it angers him that he was repeatedly assured during the Liddle's trial that Ruiz would be looking at 7-10 years behind bars.
He says it mindboggling Ruiz could spend less time in prison than his staff spent preparing for the case.
Martin says Ruiz was not a poor pawn in Liddle's scheme to defraud AEA, but he was in fact an active willing participant who received millions and millions of dollars in loans.
Templeman couldn't agree more with Martin's letter, "he's playing like he's a hurt puppy and he's not; he was one of the ring leaders, he played a big part in this hole situation."
Here's a break down on the counts and punishment Ruiz faces according to his plea deal. On the count of conspiracy, he faces a maximum $250,000 fine, a maximum of 5 years in prison, and a maximum 3 years of supervised probation.
For the second count of transactional money laundering, he faces a maximum $250,000 fine, a maximum of 10 years in prison, and a maximum 3 years of supervised probation.
However, as far as restitution goes, the prosecution states AEA will have to look elsewhere for any significant payments because Ruiz is in bankruptcy proceedings, is unemployed, and has civil suits against him.
But Templeman says Ruiz has a lot of money stashed somewhere in Mexico, "I don't see him cutting his lifestyle, he's still out drinking every night with his buddy's and you can find him at a downtown bar."
As for Ruiz, he's hoping for 3 years of probation which was the recommendation submitted to the judge by his attorney.
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