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Press Release

Architect Pleads Guilty In Conjunction With Progreso Bribery Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON - Jesus Bustos, 58, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Bustos was charged in a second superseding federal indictment alleging his participation in a bribe paying scheme in Progreso. Today in Houston federal court, Bustos admitted that from 2004 through 2013, he paid bribes and kickbacks to obtain architectural contracts for his architectural firm IDEA Group LLC on public projects in Progreso and Weslaco.

Bustos admitted he conspired with, and primarily paid these bribes through, an IDEA Group employee to obtain contracts on construction projects with the Progreso Independent School District (PISD) and with the Weslaco Independent School District (WISD). The collective value of the PISD and WISD projects on which Bustos paid bribes was in the millions of dollars.  

PISD’s Director of Maintenance and Transportation Jose Guadalupe Vela, Progreso Mayor Omar Vela and PISD Board of Trustees President Michael Vela largely controlled contracting with PISD and directed PISD contracts to those who were willing to pay Vela family members bribes. Jose Vela shared the bribe money with PISD School Board members who were willing to vote for contractors that Jose Vela chose for their willingness to pay bribes.  

In Progreso, Bustos paid bribes through his employee to members of the Vela family to obtain contracts on PISD construction projects, to include West Elementary School, Fine Arts Center, North Elementary School and the Science and Technology building. Bustos also personally delivered bribe money to Michael Vela in approximately 2011.   

In Weslaco, Bustos paid a bribe through his employee to a WISD school board member in order to obtain a contract on the Mario Ybarra Elementary School Construction project. He paid two bribes through his employee to the school board member at the end of the construction project in order to expedite payment from WISD to IDEA Group. 

U.S. District Judge David Hittner has set sentencing for July 25, 2014. At that time, Bustos faces up to five years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. 

The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Johnson is prosecuting.

Updated April 30, 2015