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Public Corruption: County Still Holds Contract Cobos Is Accused Of Rigging

Federal prosecutors allege former County Judge Anthony Cobos made back door deals and accepted bribes to get Coastal Securities to be the financial advisor for El Paso County. Investigators allege Cobos got $4,500 in the scheme. Coastal Securities is still contracted by the county as their financial advisor, but current County Judge Veronica Escobar said that’s soon to change.

She told ABC-7 that because the county is in the midst of drafting a capital improvements plan, they’ll soon accept requests for proposals for a new financial advisor. Escobar, who voted against hiring Coastal Securities in 2007, said she was concerned about the decision then because the company was not the suggested choice by a county committee formed to evaluate the bidding companies.

The company was hired to consult the county as it looked into refinancing $40 million of county debt. The contract was awarded, and Bear Stearns, the underwriter for the deal, refinanced the county debt — a move that was slated to save the county $1.2 million.

Robert “Bobby” Ruiz, a then managing director for Bear Stearns, pleaded guilty in December 2007 to four counts combined of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and a scheme to bribe elected officials.

Chris Pak, a former Vice President of Bear Stearns in Dallas, also pleaded guilty to charges of bribing an elected official.

“The work done has been beneficial, the issue is who’s doing the work for us and the issue at hand was how that person got the contract,” said Escobar, on Monday, when asked if the contract had been beneficial for the county.

The federal indictment against Cobos also mentions commissioner Dan Haggerty. It states Haggery facilitated the meeting between Cobos and Coastal Securities and got $10,000 worth of gifts from a friend of his who worked for the company. Haggerty, who has not been charged and has said he didn’t do anything wrong, told ABC-7 on Tuesday he’s staying optimistic.

“I’m very positive that this will all be resolved, hopefully. And I just apologize to the public, I know it just looks horrible. But hopefully, we’ll get through it. Whatever God wants, you know?” he said.

The often humorous Haggerty half-joked he was concerned of what to say, in fear the FBI might show up and arrest him. “I’m scared … unless they want to do chemo on me,” the commissioner, who is receiving cancer treatment, said. Haggerty is scheduled to fly to M.D. Anderson Hospital this week. He said doctors may remove his bladder. Haggery said he’s been cooperative with FBI investigators.

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