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West Texas mayor charged with $300K fraud, theft

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TOYAH, Texas (AP) - The mayor of a West Texas town of about 100 people has been charged with stealing nearly $300,000 in a forged signature scheme.

Toyah (TOY'-yuh) Mayor Bartolo Sanchez faces federal charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

Authorities did not immediately return a message Monday about Sanchez, who was arrested Friday. He's been mayor since 2006.

Investigators say Sanchez, without knowledge of the Toyah City Council, in 2009 signed a $228,000 settlement with natural gas exploration company Chesapeake Operating Inc. The money was meant to fix streets damaged by Chesapeake vehicles.

Investigators say Sanchez created a bank account and wrote checks to himself from that town fund and others. He allegedly forged a required second signature.

Toyah is 175 miles southeast of El Paso.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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