An insurance broker who admitted paying bribes to land lucrative health insurance contracts at area school districts and the now-defunct water utility was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in federal prison…………………..
Insurance broker gets 37 months for bribery
By Guillermo Contreras | April 11, 2018
An insurance broker who admitted paying bribes to land lucrative health insurance contracts at area school districts and the now-defunct water utility was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez turned down a request from the defense to give Sam Mullen probation and rejected a call from prosecutors to sentence Mullen to closer to 45 months.
The judge opted for 37 months after listening to factors that included information that Mullen received only a fraction of the $3.7 million in commissions that went to his employer. Rodriguez did not order restitution because none of the districts requested it.
The judge also ordered Mullen to begin serving the sentence by July 27 and to serve three years of federal supervision after his release.
Mullen was a central figure in an eight-year FBI investigation in which agents used co-worker Joshua Cerna and a consultant, William Haff, as cooperators against ex-San Antonio Independent School District trustee Olga Hernandez.
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She was the only elected official charged in the FBI case, and she was acquitted of all bribery-related charges at a trial last year.
Mullen was chief financial officer of his ex-wife’s former company, Mullen Pension & Benefits Group LLC, and bribed Haff with more than $83,000 for helping the Mullen Group’s clients land contracts at the San Antonio, Edgewood and South San Antonio independent school districts, as well as the now-defunct Bexar Metropolitan Water District.
Haff was an insurance industry consultant hired by the school districts and BexarMet to provide advice and was barred from being paid by those wishing to do business with the districts. Cerna, an employee of the Mullen Group, said he helped introduce Sam Mullen to board members and also got commissions.
Haff, Cerna and Mullen all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and testified at Hernandez’s trial that they coached her in meetings on how to push for contracts that benefited insurance companies represented by the Mullen Group.
Prosecutor Mark Roomberg√ argued last year that Hernandez accepted casino trips, dinners, jewelry, campaign contributions and Spurs playoff tickets from Mullen and Cerna. But Hernandez’s attorney, William T. Reid IV, told jurors that Hernandez accepted gifts as part of a friendship with Mullen and Cerna but never pledged her vote or interfered with the school district’s contracting process.
Haff and Cerna await sentencing in May and June, respectively.