Former U.S. DOT employee pleads guilty to extortion
January 19, 2023
•Land Line Staff
A former border investigator for the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has pleaded guilty to extorting a company he was auditing for the government.
Patrick Gorena, 54, of Lyford, Texas, was a border investigator for U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. He conducted compliance audits of trucking companies for safety violations.
Gorena, as part of pleading guilty, admitted that when auditing a trucking company as an FMCSA employee he solicited and collected a fee for not reporting safety violations, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. The trucking company was not identified.
The violations would have exposed the company to potential fines and the loss of its U.S. DOT license. Gorena demanded $3,500, but he wound up accepting $2,000 from an undercover law enforcement officer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.
Sentencing is scheduled for April. 18. Gorena faces up to 20 years in prison. He was allowed to remain on bond pending the sentencing hearing. Gorena was indicted in November.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General and FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hanes is prosecuting the case with trial attorney Lauren Castaldi of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. LL