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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Local Man Gets 10 Years For Methamphetamine

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A Corpus Christi man will be serving a significant sentence in federal prison following his conviction of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Jerame Cruz, 30, pleaded guilty Jan. 11, 2013.

Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos sentenced Cruz to a total of 120 months in prison to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.

In August 2012, law enforcement officials executed two search warrants at residences in Corpus Christi. At that time, officers seized approximately 339 grams of methamphetamine as well as $13,000, a .223 caliber rifle, a .380 caliber pistol and approximately 175 rounds of various caliber ammunition. Laboratory analysis determined the methamphetamine had a purity of more than 92%.

In federal custody since his arrest, Cruz will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

The FBI - Safe Streets Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the Corpus Christi Police Department Gang Unit investigated.  

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt.

tenance and transportation supervisor for PISD, maintained political control in Progreso through his sons Omar Vela, the mayor of Progreso, and Michael Vela, president of the PISD Board of Trustees. The indictment charges that Jose Vela controlled members of the PISD Board of Trustees through a system of reward and retaliation. That is, board members who voted as directed by Jose Vela were allegedly rewarded with bribe money, but those who did not follow his direction were faced with retaliation.

According to the Indictment, from 2004 to 2006, the construction company paid Omar Vela approximately $85,000 in bribes in order to be hired on projects in Progreso, including the construction of an elementary school, a school gymnasium and a municipal park. The indictment further indicates that in 2008 and 2009 the attorney paid nearly $10,000 to the three defendants in order to be hired as local counsel for PISD. 

The Indictment also alleges that from 2009 to 2012, Omar Vela instructed the owner of the electrical and plumbing supply company to provide fraudulent invoices to PISD and the City of Progreso for products that were not supplied. When the invoices were paid, Omar Vela allegedly instructed the owner of the supply company to return the funds to Omar Vela as kickbacks.  Through this scheme, Omar Vela is alleged to have stolen more than $14,000 from the City of Progreso and PISD.

If convicted, each face up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud, five years for the conspiracy, 10 years for each of the bribery and theft involving federal programs, and five years for each of the six counts of violations of the travel act. All charges also carry a possible maximum fine of $250,000. 

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

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated April 30, 2015