August 30, 2011 / 3:40 AM / 8 years ago

Ex-mayor of Arizona border town gets 3.5 years in prison

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - A judge sentenced the former mayor of the small Arizona border town of Nogales on Monday to 3.5 years in prison for bribery and seven years of probation for fraud.

Octavio Garcia Von Borstel, 31, was led away in handcuffs from Pima County Superior Court after a brief hearing during which his attorney, Christopher Scileppi, asked for the minimum sentence of two years in jail for the bribery charge.

Von Borstel had pleaded no contest to bribery and guilty to fraud.

The former mayor was arrested last September at his office in the town of 25,000, about 60 miles south of Tucson, after a five-month FBI investigation. He was accused of accepting bribes to award city contracts without the normal bidding process and to protect contracts already in place.

The seven-year probation sentence, which will begin after Von Borstel’s release from prison, was part of an agreement in which the former mayor pleaded guilty to falsely reporting that $3.2 million worth of money orders was sold at his father’s business. He then deposited more than $600,000 worth of the money orders in a bank account.

Charges of theft and money-laundering were dropped in the plea deal.

Octavio Garcia Suarez, 59, Von Borstel’s father and an agent for Western Union, was also charged in the case.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie, the former mayor told the judge he was in court to take responsibility for his actions. He accepted the plea agreement to save taxpayers the expense of a trial, his lawyer told the judge.

The plea agreement includes a restitution order under which Von Borstel will have to pay back the money he took from Western Union.

Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia Johnston

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