Hidalgo Officials Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery
McALLEN, Texas ‐ Two Hidalgo women have been ordered to federal prison following their conviction for conspiracy to commit bribery, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Susana Munguia, 61, and Lubina Pedraza, 54, pleaded guilty July 13, 2015.
Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, who accepted the guilty pleas, handed Munguia a 57-month sentence, while Pedraza was ordered to serve 46 months. The sentences will be followed by three years of supervised release. Munguia and Pedraza were also ordered to forfeit approximately $14,497 in illicit proceeds. In handing down the sentence, Judge Alvarez noted that we cannot allow public corruption to spread. There is no excuse for someone who takes a position in the public sector and then illegally uses that position for their own benefit.
Munguia and Pedraza were former officials with the City of Hidalgo Housing Authority who worked directly with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP). Munguia was the executive director and Pedraza was a secretary.
From July 2011 to May 2014, Munguia and Pedraza admitted they used their positions as public officials to engage in a bribery scheme. The two women solicited and received bribes in exchange for allowing individuals to skip the Section 8 waitlist and immediately obtain housing assistance from the HCVP. Individuals paid, directly or through a third party, a monetary bribe to Munguia and Pedraza in order to bypass the waitlist system and to receive immediate approval to obtain vouchers for housing subsidies under the HCVP.
Munguia supervised and Pedraza was responsible for assigning housing to the payee or beneficiary and issued checks to subsidize their rent payments. After Munguia and Pedraza received the bribe, the paying party (or the person for whom payment was made), would immediately receive their subsidized housing.
Previously released on bond, the women were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation was conducted by HUD-Office of Inspector General and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Rees prosecuted the case.