Last Updated on August 17, 2022
A former Democratic congressman from California has been charged in connection with business scams that netted his companies over three-million dollars. T.J. Cox, who lost his re-election bid in 2020, is also accused of fraudulently diverting campaign funds to close friends and family members.
Terrance John “T.J.” Cox, 59, of Fresno has been charged in a 28-count indictment that accuses him of skimming more than $1.7 million from an almond-processing company he co-owned and fraudulently obtaining a $1.5 development loan, according to the Sacramento US Attorney’s Office.
Cox is also accused of setting up friends and family members to profit from contributions to his 2018 campaign. Some of the former congressman’s associates made upwards of $25,000 as a result of the scheme. Cox allegedly provided the money up front or reimbursed the “straw” donors afterward, the New York Post reported.
In 2018, Cox narrowly defeated Incumbent GOP Rep. David Valadao. Despite a favorable climate for Democrats, Cox squeaked out a win by just 862 votes, accounting for less than 1% of all ballots cast.
Valadao was able to wrestle control of the seat back in 2020 after Cox came under fire for COVID-19 regulation hypocrisy. Then-Congressman Cox sought special access Yosemite National Park to celebrate the Fourth of July despite COVID-19 restrictions he publicly endorsed.
Cox initially formed a political action committee for another rematch with Valadao, but ultimately decided to back state assemblyman Rudy Salas. Valadao — who voted to impeach President Trump over the January 6 Capitol protests — is now locked in a tight race with Salas this November.
T.J. Cox was one of several Democratic members of Congress with ties to companies that received millions of dollars in pandemic-induced Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to a report from the New York Post. The almond-processing company got as much as $350,000, as did an elder care provider in which Cox had a financial stake worth up to $1 million.
Those loans were not part of the indictment that was unsealed Tuesday.
Cox’s alleged scam with the almond-processing company involved diverting at least $750,000 in client payments, company loans and purported investments into a secret account, prosecutors allege.
The former congressman is also accused of falsifying a document in order to renovate a Fresno Sports Complex. Cox forged the document in order to claim the project would be backed up by one of his companies, even though his partners never agreed to the deal. The loan later went into default, which causes the lender to lose over $1.3 million, prosecutors said.
Cox was arrested by the FBI and booked into the Fresno County jail; arrest records show. Information regarding an initial court appearance is not yet available.