A federal grand jury in Houston has returned an indictment charging a former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration employee with bribery and extortion.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Patrick Gorena, 54, of Lyford, Texas, was a border investigator for the FMCSA. In exchange for minimizing purported safety violations he encountered while auditing a trucking company, which would have exposed the company to potential fines and the loss of their ability to operate, Gorena allegedly demanded a $3,500 cash payment. The charges allege Gorena ultimately accepted a $2,000 bribe from an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a representative of the trucking company.
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Gorena is charged with one count of bribery and one count of extortion under color of official right. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the extortion count and 15 years in prison on the bribery count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The McAllen FBI Public Corruption Squad and Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation are investigating the case. Trial Attorney Lauren Castaldi of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hanes for the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.