A former administrator of Hidalgo County EMS took nearly $195,000 from the struggling company, according to documents filed in federal bankruptcy court.
Edgar Diaz — a director of Hidalgo County EMS, a private ambulance company that filed for bankruptcy and closed last year — admitted in a settlement agreement that he embezzled the money.
“As early as January 2018, Diaz appropriated funds without the written consent of the debtor,” according to a settlement agreement filed with the bankruptcy court. “The total amount of appropriate funds taken by Diaz is $194,972.04.”
US Bankruptcy Judge David R. Jones approved the settlement agreement on January 27.
Diaz declined to comment. The bankruptcy trustee, attorney Christopher R. Murray of the Houston-based law firm Jones Murray & Beatty, did not respond to a request for comment.
When, exactly, Hidalgo County EMS discovered that Diaz had taken money without authorization remains unclear.
“Mr. Diaz was fired because he confessed to stealing from the company,” said Omar Romero, former director of restructuring. wrote in response to a discovery request. “I personally recused myself from this issue upon becoming aware of it due to my long personal and family ties to Diaz.”
Hidalgo County EMS filed a report with the McAllen Police Department in March 2021. Diaz, however, has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
In November 2021, nine months after Hidalgo County EMS filed the police report, Diaz signed a settlement agreement with the bankruptcy trustee.
Diaz agreed to repay the money within two years. In exchange, the bankruptcy trustee agreed to drop “all causes of action” against him.
The deal is guaranteed by Diaz’s mother.
If he does not make the payments, the trustee in bankruptcy can seize commercial property that he owns. The property, which is located on the 2500 block of Buddy Owens Boulevard in McAllen, is worth $226,000, according to information released by the Hidalgo County Appraisal District.
Diaz wasn’t the only person accused of taking money from Hidalgo County EMS without permission.
Two other high-profile directors, Romero and CEO Kenneth B. Ponce, pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud charges last year.
Ponce admitted to falsifying documents, concealing assets and defrauding creditors during the bankruptcy. Among other things, Ponce forged documents to protect McAllen’s businessman Jose Luis Trejo, who had loaned him hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The criminal investigation against Ponce identified Trejo as “co-conspirator A”.
“The fraudulent instruments were later invoked during the bankruptcy proceedings, resulting in co-conspirator A obtaining preferential treatment over other EMS creditors in Hidalgo County,” according to the criminal records.
As part of his plea, Ponce agreed to repay approximately $124,000.
Romero, meanwhile, admitted to improperly taking $50,000 from Hidalgo County EMS. The criminal investigation against Ponce identified Romero as “co-conspirator B”.
“During the bankruptcy proceedings, co-conspirator B obtained at least $50,000.00 of the bankruptcy estate which was not authorized as compensation,” according to criminal records. “PONCE has accepted an interest payment from co-conspirator B on funds collected from the Hidalgo County EMS bankruptcy.”
Romero agreed to pay back $50,000.