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Crystal City Texas News: Nearly All Council Officials Arrested on Felony Charges

Image: Crystal City Texas News: Nearly All Council Officials Arrested on Felony Charges
(WOAI)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 Feb 2016 08:29 AM

Crime took a big bite out of a small Texas town’s city hall last week when five top officials in Crystal City were arrested on federal corruption charges.

Mayor Ricardo Lopez, city manager William James Jonas, council members Rogelio Mata and Roel Mata, and former council member Gilbert Urrabazo, as well as businessman Ngoc Tri Nguyen, were all arrested in connection to the alleged scheme, The Washington Post reported.

An indictment handed down by a grand jury accuses the men of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes and helping Nguyen, the operator of an illegal gambling operation who goes by "Mr. T," according to The Post. Another council member, Marco Rodriguez, was arrested last month on unrelated human smuggling charges, the newspaper said.

"The breadth of the corruption was startling. Almost every facet of the government in Crystal City had elements of corruption in it," FBI Special Agent in Charge Chris Combs said, according to KENS-TV.

The indictment accuses the arrested officials of “voting to award contracts in exchange for bribes, extorting payments from contractors, turning a blind eye to Nguyen’s illegal gaming business while taking action to shut down would-be competitors, and agreeing to reduce Nguyen’s taxes in exchange for him waiving debts, among other dealings,” The Post said.

Crystal City has a population of about 7,500 people and is about 130 miles southwest of San Antonio. Now, the sole council member is Joel Barajas, the only one on the panel not facing charges.

"I just want to say to Crystal City that we came this far and all we got to do is just unite together with the community and myself and we can continue going forward," Barajas told KSAT.

Each defendant faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine if convicted, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, the city council members are reportedly still in charge, according to KENS-TV.

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Crime took a big bite out of a small Texas town’s city hall last week when five top officials in Crystal City were arrested on federal corruption charges.
crystal city, texas, news, council, arrested
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2016-29-09
Tuesday, 09 Feb 2016 08:29 AM
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