Ex-housing authority official faces fraud charges
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
McALLEN, Texas – The former interim executive director for the La Joya Housing Authority is now in custody on charges of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Frances Salinas De Leon, 52, La Joya, is set to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Chestney in San Antonio tomorrow morning.
The criminal complaint was filed Dec. 12 and unsealed upon her arrest earlier this week. It alleges that from June 2018 to approximately November 2018, De Leon acted as an intermediary between Sylvia Garces Valdez and a local elected official. De Leon allegedly helped secure a public relations contract for Valdez.
The charges also detail text conversations between Valdez and De Leon in which De Leon claimed to have a direct connection with a La Joya official. That individual would allegedly ensure the contract’s approval and any necessary amendments, according to the complaint. De Leon also allegedly set the amount of payment under the contract. The charges further allege Valdez would have to give money to DeLeon after the contract’s approval.
The complaint further alleges the women emailed each other about the contract and that Valdez had sent additional ones at DeLeon’s direction.
If convicted, De Leon faces up to 20 years in federal prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Valdez, 38, La Joya, is also charged in a related case. If convicted if federal program bribery, she faces up to 10 years and a possible $250,000 fine.
The FBI and Department of Housing and Urban Development—Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarina S. DiPiazza and Roberto Lopez Jr. are prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
Updated December 26, 2019