South Texas mayor sentenced to eight years in federal prison

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Crystal City

The former mayor of Crystal City was sentenced this week to eight years in federal prison for corruption.

In addition to the time behind bars, Ricardo Lopez was sentenced to pay $24,000 in restitution and spend three years under federal supervision upon release, according to the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC station.

In June 2017, a federal jury in Del Rio found Lopez and William James Jonas III, Crystal City’s former city manager and city attorney, guilty of bribery, wire fraud and theft counts from a corruption probe. Lopez, who was arrested in February 2016 at a city council meeting, resigned a few days later.

According to the San Antonio Express-News:

The sole witness called Wednesday was the city manager, Santos Camarillo, who testified that Lopez had squandered more than $18,000 in city funds on questionable trips and events, including going to Houston for an Asian Lunar New Year festival.

She was called by Lopez’s lawyer Jad Harper, who tried to establish that some of the expenses were legitimate but made little headway.

This comes on the heels of other high-profile corruption issues in South Texas.

State District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado was arrested in February in the midst of an apparent FBI investigation, with FBI agents collecting records from the offices of Delgado’s 93rd state District Court and his home in Edinburg.

Federal investigators allege Delgado, 65, accepted approximately $6,000 in cash bribes from a local attorney between November 2016 and January 2018 in exchange for setting bonds for three clients accused of violating probation.

And former Houston Community College Trustee Chris Oliver pleaded guilty to bribery last year after admitting to federal prosecutors that he pocketed a quarter of a million dollars in bribes to steer contracts to select HCC vendors. He was sentenced in January to nearly six years in prison.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-2119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Now the dirty cops troopers bail bonds men da pa and judges they all in on it he couldn’t do it all alone but looks like he will be the “fallguy” for the organized crime racketeering extortion specialist

    • When I was a freshman at UT, I lived in San Jacinto dorms. They were bachelor officers quarters from WWII. Frame blogs, no ac, heat. Common bathrooms down the hall. With the La Raza guys from Crystal City. I think they stole too once they had the chance.

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