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Crystal City, Texas: The Most Corrupt Little Town in America?

Image: Crystal City, Texas: The Most Corrupt Little Town in America?

Crystal City Mayor Mayor Ricardo Lopez and Hillary Clinton. (Twitter/‏@JivinJehoshaph)

By    |   Monday, 07 Mar 2016 12:58 PM

Crystal City, Texas is possibly the most corrupt little town in America, said the Washington Post, after FBI agents swooped in last month and charged the mayor and all but one city council member with federal crimes.

Crystal City, located about 120 miles southwest of San Antonio, has been flooded by nearly 100 FBI agents who are involved in the investigation, according to the Post. The investigation is just the latest anti-corruption push by the San Antonio office of the FBI.

The office launched 23 public corruption inquiries in 2012, 51 more in 2013 and 64 in 2014, authorities told the Post.

"There are caring people in Southwest Texas," Joel R. Barajas, the lone city council member who wasn't slapped with federal charges, told the San Antonio Express-News last month. "We really appreciate it, all of the residents of Crystal City."

Mayor Ricardo Lopez, 40; city manager and city attorney William James Jonas, III, 54; mayor pro-tem Rogelio Mata, 43; city councilman Roel Mata, 44; former city councilman Gilbert Urrabazo, 45; and, Ngoc Tri Nguyen, 38, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery involving an entity receiving more than $10,000 in federal funds, according to an FBI release.

Jonas was also charged with three substantive federal programs bribery charges and the other defendants with one substantive federal programs bribery charge each, according to the FBI.

Another councilman, Marco Rodriguez, was indicted on a human smuggling charge in an unrelated case, said the Express-News.

Maria Martinez, who works in Crystal City's finance department, said city workers continued to show up amid the chaos of the indictments.

"The job doesn't stop," Martinez said. "We solve what's important first and move on. It's all we can do."

The city also experienced a problem with its drinking water last month that lasted several days in some portions of the city, noted the Post. Wastewater superintendent Carlos Ramirez said the problem was created when workers cleaning a water tank inadvertently sent sediment through the water system.

Despite the problems, Texas law doesn't provide a mechanism allowing the state to take over a city government, Lopez told the Post he plans on running for mayor again in May, and then maybe lieutenant governor or governor.

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Crystal City, Texas is possibly the most corrupt little town in America, said the Washington Post, after FBI agents swooped in last month and charged the mayor and all but one city council member with federal crimes.
crystal city, texas, corrupt
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2016-58-07
Monday, 07 Mar 2016 12:58 PM
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