The FBI, as the result of an investigation into corruption in Crystal City, Texas, swooped in and arrested almost every elected official in town. The mayor, the city manager and council members were all arrested for accepting bribes in exchange for contracts with the city. They are also accused of helping a local crime figure as he ran an illegal gambling ring in the city. That man, Ngoc Tri Nguyen, who is also a former city council member, paid tens of thousands in bribes to make sure his operation was left alone.
Those arrested include Mayor Ricardo Lopez, Mayor Pro Tempore Rogelio Mata, council member Roel Mata, Council member Marco Rodriguez and former council member Gilbert Urrabazo and of course Ngoc Tri Nguyen. The first four are also accused of extending the contract of city manager William Jonas in exchange for him looking the other way as far as the bribery was concerned.
Two of the five have recent previous arrests. Jonas was arrested back in December for roughing up an old lady who was trying to get into the city council meeting. Rodriguez was recently arrested for human trafficking for bringing illegal aliens into the city. After his arrestet, he admitted that this was his third time transporting illegals into the country.
Mayor Ricardo Lopez was accused of telling city officials to go easy on properties owned by Ngoc Tri Nguyen in exchange for six thousand dollars in cash to buy a car. (Not much of a car)
Richard Durbin Jr., the U.S. attorney for San Antonio, told the Associated Press that he hoped the indictment would help restore some public confidence in the local government. If convicted, each official faces up to 10 years in federal prison and as much as $250,000 in fines, according to CNN.
But Durbin’s office doesn’t have the power to remove the officials from their positions, the U.S. attorney said — only voters can do that.
“What we can do is that first step,” Durbin told the AP. “In the end, it falls back on the citizens to make the next decision on who they put in those offices, because that’s how the system works.”