The former administrator of a Texas assisted living community pleaded guilty Tuesday to causing a $2 million loss to the federal government by skimming equity from the community instead of making payments on a loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Under federal statutes, Antonio Otero faces up to five years in federal prison at sentencing and restitution to the parties involved. As part of his plea agreement, he has agreed to pay restitution.
According to information presented in court and shared by the Justice Department, from before 2011 until October 2015, Otero was the administrator of The Magnolia, an assisted living and memory care community in Texarkana, TX, and had been instrumental in the founding and operation of the facility.
Otero reportedly obtained a HUD-insured loan, and under the terms, HUD would incur the financial loss in the event that The Magnolia defaulted. Otero and The Magnolia owners agreed to be bound by a regulatory agreement with HUD that prohibited them from removing equity from The Magnolia unless the loan was being paid and The Magnolia had surplus cash.
Instead of paying the HUD-insured loan, however, Otero skimmed equity from The Magnolia, the Justice Department said. For example, he reportedly took money from The Magnolia to pay $3,952 for camera equipment, $3,247 for a watch, $2,520 for landscaping for his home, $27,408 to make a personal mortgage, $12,750 for a down payment on a personal vehicle and $1,540 for tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game.
Additionally, Otero reportedly gave money that he took from The Magnolia to other people to use — $13,000 for cosmetic surgery, $5,500 for a loan repayment and $30,000 in equity distributions.
Earlier this month, when a local media outlet published an article about the charges against Otero and his expected plea deal, The Magnolia posted this message on its Facebook page: “We are extremely grateful that the fate of our present and future rests with a new administration which took over two years ago. In that time, our facility has grown to full capacity and has flourished immensely. Thank you Rickey Wayne Riebesell and staff for transforming this caterpillar into a butterfly.”