Former Texas fire chief charged with fraud
Chief Robert Ostrenga is accused of selling a department truck to himself for less than half the market value
By Aaron Martinez
El Paso Times
MONTANA VISTA, Texas — The former chief of the Montana Vista Volunteer Fire Department has been charged with fraud in federal court after he allegedly attempted to sell a department pickup in 2012 to himself for far less than market value, records show.
Robert Ostrenga, who retired as fire chief as a criminal investigation was being conducted against him in 2012, is charged with one count of fraud by wire, radio or television in an alleged effort to defraud the county of El Paso, the Emergency Services District No. 2 and the Montana Vista Volunteer Fire Department.
Ostrenga is expected to have a re-arraignment hearing Jan. 24 before Senior U.S. District Judge David Briones.
According to court records, Ostrenga has entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. The plea agreement document is not available through online court records.
Ostrenga allegedly tried to sell a 2005 Chevrolet pickup, which belonged to the Emergency Services District No. 2, to himself for “far less than the market value,” court documents state.
He also allegedly caused the Fire Department and emergency services district to pay for more than $5,000 worth of repairs and upgrades to the truck, documents state.
Ostrenga, who had worked for the Fire Department for 25 years, retired from the position in November 2012. He claimed at the time that his retirement had nothing to do with the criminal investigation being conducted against him by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
He also had resigned from the Emergency Services District No. 2 board of commissioners in May 2012.
According to documents obtained by the El Paso Times in 2012, Ostrenga allegedly authorized the use of Fire Department funds to make thousands of dollars of repairs and improvements on the truck while it still was owned by Emergency Services District No. 2 and the Fire Department.
He then allegedly took possession of the truck after the repairs and improvements were made.
Emergency Services District No. 2 is operated by the county and uses taxpayer money to help fund volunteer fire departments in Montana Vista, Clint, Fabens, San Elizario, Socorro and West Valley.
Ostrenga told the El Paso Times in 2012 that the truck still belonged to the fire station when the repairs were made, although he had already allegedly written a $2,500 check to buy the vehicle.
After the Sheriff’s Office began its investigation into the allegations, Ostrenga allegedly returned the truck to the Fire Department.
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