By Aaron Blevins, 10/18/2012
A former public official who orchestrated a conspiracy involving his two brothers that stole more than $500,000 from the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) was sentenced on Oct. 15 to 51 months in federal prison.
Victor Taracena, 41, who formerly resided in Burbank, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson. In addition to the prison term, Anderson ordered Taracena to pay $526,727 in restitution to HACLA.
He managed HACLA’s construction program for public housing units occupied by disabled residents, and the money that he and his brothers stole was intended to build accommodations that complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In June, Taracena’s two brothers — Diego L. Taracena, 37, and Bennett A. Taracena, 32, both of Burbank — each were each sentenced to 21 months imprisonment.
All three Taracena brothers pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy charges. As part of the scheme, Diego and Bennett Taracena established four sham companies to get contracts from HACLA. After establishing bank accounts for those sham companies, Diego and Bennett Taracena accepted $526,727 from HACLA over the course of 3 years. Despite receiving the payments, the companies did not perform any actual work.
During the scheme, Diego and Bennett Taracena paid kickbacks totaling approximately $106,975 to Victor Taracena. At least $30,000 of those kickback payments were wired to a Guatemalan bank account, and some of this money was used to purchase property in Guatemala. After being terminated by HACLA, Victor Taracena moved to Guatemala, where he lived until June, when he was expelled by Guatemala and returned to the United States to face charges in this case.