Sentencing for Frank Ruiz continued to March
Sentencing has been continued until March 12 for Yuma businessman Frank Ruiz, who pleaded guilty to taking part in a kickback scheme to obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent business loans from AEA Federal Credit Union.
According to documents from the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Ruiz pleaded guilty in June to charges of transactional money laundering and conspiracy for his role in the misuse of credit union funds that ultimately cost the financial institution millions of dollars and contributed to its insolvency.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ruiz could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised probation and a maximum fine of $250,000 in the money laundering charge. He also faces a maximum $250,000 fine, up to five years in prison and three years of supervised probation on the conspiracy charge.
According to Yuma Sun archives, a trial date was set for Jan. 10 in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix. However, the plea agreement includes a stipulation that if Ruiz cooperates fully with the investigation into two co-defendants and testifies against them, the federal government will recommend that he receive the low end of the sentencing range or probation, if available.
This week, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton granted a motion to continue sentencing to March 12 from Jan. 23. This was the second motion by Ruiz to continue sentencing.
In the court document, Bolton noted: “The court finds that failure to grant such a continuance would unreasonably deny counsel for the defendant reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence.”
After a lengthy FBI investigation, a federal grand jury in December 2010 handed down a 69-count indictment against Ruiz as well as William Liddle, former vice president of business lending for AEA, and Liddle's wife, Rhonda.
The indictment alleged that Liddle and his wife received almost $1 million from Ruiz in exchange for $22 million in fraudulent business loans made to Ruiz as the developer of Yuma Fun Factory and Top of the Kress.
In December 2010, the National Credit Union Administration placed AEA in conservatorship for its large business loan losses.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/jlobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.