Cox is being charged with campaign contribution fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of financial institution fraud, according to information from the DOJ. “According to allegations in the indictment, Cox perpetrated multiple fraud schemes targeting companies he was affiliated with and their clients and vendors. Cox created unauthorized off-the-books bank accounts and diverted client and company money into those accounts through false representations, pretenses and promises,” according to the announcement.
Cox, a Democrat, took office in January of 2019 and was elected to serve District 21 in California. His platform included fighting for access to affordable care, immigration reform including protections and a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and “[ending] big money in politics and [fixing] our rigged political system by sponsoring and passing comprehensive campaign finance reform,” according to political informational resource Ballotpedia.
The former small businessman and engineer lost the 2020 general election and as such left office in January of 2021.
"Upon his release from Fresno County Jail Tuesday evening, former Fresno Congressman Terrance John “TJ” Cox said he looks forward to defending himself against a slew of federal charges. By @brianna_vaccari: https://t.co/Q7xrjkzOXV"
Per the indictment, Cox was involved in two separate fraudulent schemes that took place between 2013 and 2018. During that time, the DOJ says, the ex-representative illicitly took in more than $1.7 million in diverted client payments, loans and investments he allegedly solicited and stole.
Additionally, he also allegedly received funds from mortgage loans associated with a property purchased by making “multiple false representations to the lender, including fabricated bank statements” indicating Cox was planning to buy and inhabit the property. According to the allegations, however, Cox purchased the property and proceeded to rent it out. Further still, he stands accused of improperly obtaining a $1.5 million construction loan with the purported aim of developing the Granite Park recreation area in Fresno.
“Cox and his business partner’s nonprofit could not qualify for the construction loan without a financially viable party guaranteeing the loan. Cox falsely represented that one of his affiliated companies would guarantee the loan, and submitted a fabricated board resolution which falsely stated that at a meeting on a given date all company owners agreed to guarantee the Granite Park loan,” reads the announcement. “No meeting took place, and the other owners did not agree to back the loan. The loan later went into default causing a loss of more than $1.28 million.”
Lastly, Cox stands accused of perpetrating a plan to reimburse associates and family members for donations and illegally arranging for more than $25,000 in conduit or straw donations for his 2017 campaign.
If convicted of wire fraud and money laundering, Cox faces a “maximum statutory penalty” of 20 years’ prison time as well as a $250,000 fine. He faces a “maximum statutory penalty” of 30 years’ prison time in addition to a $1 million fine for “wire fraud affecting a financial institution and financial institution fraud.” Finally, he faces a “maximum statutory penalty” of five years prison time as well as a $250,000 fine for campaign contribution fraud.