Mayor Accused of Stealing Town's Natural Gas Funds

Monday, Dec 3, 2012  |  Updated 1:56 PM CDT
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Mayor Accused of Stealing Town's Natural Gas Funds

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The mayor of a West Texas town of about 100 people has been charged with stealing nearly $300,000 in a forged signature scheme.

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The mayor of a West Texas town of about 100 people has been charged with stealing nearly $300,000 in a forged signature scheme.

Toyah Mayor Bartolo Sanchez faces federal charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. 

Authorities did not immediately return a message Monday about Sanchez, who was arrested Friday. He's been mayor since 2006.

Investigators say Sanchez, without knowledge of the Toyah City Council, in 2009 signed a $228,000 settlement with natural gas exploration company Chesapeake Operating Inc. The money was meant to fix streets damaged by Chesapeake vehicles.

Investigators say Sanchez created a bank account and wrote checks to himself from that town fund and others. He allegedly forged a required second signature.

Toyah is 175 miles southeast of El Paso.

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