La Joya residents sentenced for fraud schemes
McALLEN, Texas – The former mayor of La Joya and two others have been ordered to federal prison for wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Former mayor Jose Adolfo Salinas, 83, pleaded guilty July 19, 2021, while his daughter - Frances Salinas De Leon, 54 - and Ramiro Alaniz, 40, both admitted to their guilt June 17, 2021. All are from La Joya
Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Salinas to 33 months in prison, while his daughter was ordered to serve a 39-month-term of imprisonment. Alaniz received nine months. All must also serve three years of supervised release following their sentences. At the hearing, the court heard additional information concerning the financial damage the fraud schemes had caused.
In assessing the financial loss, Judge Crane considered additional relevant conduct including property Salinas had sold to the City of La Joya at an inflated rate as well as De Leon’s theft from the La Joya Housing Authority while she was acting as the interim executive director. Judge Crane noted how the case demonstrates the culture of corruption that existed in La Joya at the time of the schemes, adding that while public office is for service and self-sacrifice, Salinas used his position to benefit himself and his family financially.
“Rio Grande Valley residents rightfully expect elected leaders to remain ethical and trustworthy while serving the community,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Oliver E. Rich Jr. “This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s firm commitment to address public corruption and hold corrupt officials accountable.”
Salinas entered his plea in relation to a public relations contract his daughter had drafted and brokered with the city on behalf of another individual. She was, in turn, to receive some of the proceeds resulting from that deal. De Leon was not a city employee, but used her relationship with Salinas to get the contract approved so she could receive a significant amount of the contract’s proceeds. Salinas used his authority to approve and city funds to pay for the contract.
Additionally, Le Leon admitted to wire fraud in connection with loans received for a children’s day care project. During 2017, the La Joya Economic Development Corporation, which her father headed, provided approximately $341,000 in loans to De Leon and other individuals to pay for the construction of the project. De Leon stole some of the funds and also received kickbacks from some of the subcontractors.
De Leon hired Alaniz as a general contractor. He also received kickbacks from the project.
All were permitted to remain on bond pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The FBI, Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and U.S. Department of Agriculture - OIG conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarina S. DiPiazza, Roberto Lopez Jr. and James Sturgis prosecuted the case.