Aug 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

FBI arrests former congressman on money laundering, wire fraud charges

Rep. T.J. Cox, D-Calif., conducts a news conference.
Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Calif.) conducts a news conference in 2019. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Former Rep. T.J. Cox was arrested by the FBI in California on Tuesday over multiple fraud schemes, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: The former congressman was charged with “15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud," according to the DOJ.

  • Through two different schemes (which ran from 2013 to 2018), "Cox illicitly obtained over $1.7 million in diverted client payments and company loans and investments he solicited and then stole," the DOJ said.

Zoom in: Cox allegedly created "unauthorized off-the-books bank accounts" and made "false representations, pretenses and promises" to direct money from clients and companies into these accounts, the DOJ said.

  • Cox also allegedly received a mortgage loan from a lender after making "multiple false representations to the lender," which included false bank statements and false claims that he intended to use the property as his primary home, per the DOJ. He allegedly bought the property and rented to someone else.

Background: Cox was elected in 2018 to Congress before he lost his spot in 2020 by a mere 1,500 votes. He considered running again in 2022 before giving an endorsement to Democrat Rudy Salas, per Politico.

What we're watching: Cox faces potentially 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud and money laundering charges alone.

  • He could also face up to 30 years and a $1 million fine behind bars "for wire fraud affecting a financial institution and financial institution fraud," the DOJ said.

Go deeper: Why money laundering persists

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