3 former city officials sentenced to prison on corruption charges

Several city officials used their official positions to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting bribes from people seeking to do business in Crystal City, which is located 100 miles near San Antonio, TX.

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Image Credit: Kin Man Hui, Staff/San Antonio Express-News

After pleading guilty to a federal programs bribery charge, three former Crystal City officials were sentenced to prison for participating in a bribery and kickback scheme. Earlier this year, the former mayor and the city manager were both sentenced to federal prison for the roles in the scheme.

Between May 2012 and February 2016, several city officials used their official positions to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting bribes from people seeking to do business in Crystal City, which is located 100 miles near San Antonio, TX. According to court documents, they used emails, texts, and phone calls to carry out their scheme to defraud Crystal City and its citizens through bribery and the concealment of information.

In 2016, former Crystal City Mayor Pro-Tem Rogelio Mata, former City Councilman Roel Mata, and former City Councilman Gilbert Urrabazo pleaded guilty to federal programs bribery while admitting to using their official positions to enrich themselves by accepting cash bribes from an individual seeking to do business with the city. After pleading guilty to a federal programs bribery charge, businessman Ngoc Tri Nguyen was sentenced to 17 months incarceration and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution and a $40,000 money judgment for his role in the fraudulent scheme.

On June 26, 2017, former Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery involving federal programs, one substantive count of bribery involving federal programs, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and theft of honest services, and four substantive counts of wire fraud and theft of honest services. Former City Manager William James Jonas III was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery involving federal programs, three substantive counts of bribery involving federal programs, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and theft of honest services, five substantive counts of wire fraud and theft of honest services, and four counts of wire fraud.

In May, Lopez and Jonas were sentenced to 97 months and 420 months in federal prison, respectively, for their roles in the scheme. In addition, Jonas was ordered to pay $1,047,814.05 in restitution, and Lopez was ordered to pay $24,003.95 in restitution.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses sentenced former Mayor Pro-Tem Rogelio Mata, former City Councilman Roel Mata, and former City Councilman Gilbert Urrabazo to 33 months, 21 months, and 24 months in federal prison, respectively. Judge Moses also ordered the three to each pay a $2,000 fine and ordered them to pay a money judgment in forfeiture of $11,291.73.

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