Olga Hernandez, a trustee on the board of the San Antonio Independent School District, was arrested Thursday on federal charges that she accepted cash, jewelry and travel in a bribery and kickback scheme.
According to federal prosecutors, two employees of an insurance company and an independent insurance consultant made the bribes to the 66-year-old Hernandez in exchange for favorable votes on numerous insurance contracts with the school district. The kickback scheme allegedly ran for seven years from March 2008 to May 2015, and all three insurance professionals have pleaded guilty in their cases.
Hernandez appeared before a federal court in handcuffs Thursday afternoon and was released on a pre-trial bond.
The charges stem from an ongoing FBI investigation into fraud in school districts across South Texas.
In response to the shadow cast on the SAISD board by these allegations, Superintendent Pedro Martinez made the following statement:
“WE ARE VERY SADDENED AND DISTURBED BY THIS NEWS. SINCE I HAVE BEEN HERE WORKING WITH THE BOARD, THEY HAVE DEMONSTRATED A COMMITMENT TO ACT WITH THE UTMOST INTEGRITY, TO FOCUS OUR STUDENTS AND BUILD TRUST WITH THE COMMUNITY. WE ARE WAITING TO FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION, AND WILL BE FOLLOWING IT CLOSELY.”
Hernandez’ attorney, Alan Brown, said that she has done a lot of good for the community and will be proven innocent of the charges.
If found guilty, Hernandez could face up to 20 years in federal prison.