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Dec. 4, 2009

DONNA ISD TRUSTEE PLEADS GUILTY TO LYING TO FEDERAL AGENTS

(McALLEN, Texas) – Long-time Donna Independent School District (DISD) trustee George Hernandez has pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a federal agent, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

The false statement was made by Hernandez, 52, of Donna, Texas, to agents then-investigating bribes related school district contracts at the Pharr Alamo San Juan Independent School District (PSJA). Hernandez was originally indicted in June 2007 along with then-PSJA trustees Rogelio “Roy” Rodriguez, Raul “Roy” Navarro and Evangelina “Vangie” De Leon and former superintendent Arturo Guajardo and others. Donna ISD and PSJA-ISD are both large school districts located in Hidalgo County, Texas.

Today, Hernandez appeared before Chief United States District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa and admitted that on May 21, 2007, he falsely answered federal agents when asked if he had contact with a certain PSJA-ISD contractor at any time following the search of the contractor’s home and business by FBI agents in June 2006. Hernandez lied to agents when he denied having any such contact. However, the evidence presented today detailed three meetings observed by FBI agents between Hernandez and the contractor between June 2006 and May 21, 2007.

Hernandez faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 at sentencing. Judge Hinojosa, who accepted Hernandez’s guilty plea and convicted him of the federal felony offense, has set sentencing for March 10, 2010. Hernandez has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing.

The other defendants charged along with Hernandez - Rodriguez, Navarro, De Leon, Guarjardo and Arnulfo Olivarez - have also been convicted after pleading guilty to offenses charged in an indictment and are pending sentencing. 

The case was investigated by agents with the McAllen Office of the FBI, the McAllen office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and the Dallas office of the Department of Education - Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Larry Eastepp of the Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.

 

 

 

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