Court grants bond to former dealership employees accused of wire fraud

McALLEN — Two of the three men indicted on wire fraud charges were granted a bond during a hearing late Thursday afternoon, court records show.

Ronnie Joe Gomez, 44, of Pharr, David Salinas, 44, of McAllen, and Jorge Villanueva, 50, of San Antonio were arrested and detained Thursday morning on charges that they allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud banking institutions and others in connection with car loans in the Rio Grande Valley area, court records show.

Gomez and Salinas were employed with Spike’s Ford in Mission at the time of the alleged crimes, and Villanueva was an employee with Hacienda Ford, which has locations in Edinburg and McAllen.

The indictment, returned June 18, was unsealed Thursday upon their arrests.

Gomez, Salinas and Villanueva allegedly concocted a scheme to dupe financial institutions — Ford Credit and the Navy Army Community Credit Union, to name a few — by submitting fraudulent proof of their customers’ income to purchase motor vehicles.

The men opted to have their bond hearings Thursday afternoon.

During his bond hearing, Gomez pleaded not guilty to the charge before him, and was ultimately denied bond after his defense counsel and the government gave arguments to the court. He was remanded into custody pending his next court hearing.

The court, after hearing arguments from Villanueva’s and Salinas’ respective attorneys,  granted the men a $30,000 bond with $1,000 deposit each, court notes show.

Salinas and Villanueva also each pleaded not guilty to the wire fraud charge they faced, records show.

If convicted of the charge, each defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The final pretrial hearing is set for early August, with the jury trial set for Aug. 6 for all three defendants, the notes show.

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Ex-car dealership employees indicted on wire fraud charges