Former Crystal City Councilman Pleads Guilty to Role in Bribery and Kickback Scheme
In Del Rio this afternoon, former Crystal City Councilman Gilbert Urrabazo pleaded guilty to a federal charge in connection with a bribery and kickback scheme involving city contracts announced United States Attorney Richard Durbin, Jr., and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
Appearing before United States District Judge Alia Moses, Urrabazo, age 45, pleaded guilty to one count of federal programs bribery. By pleading guilty, Urrabazo admittedly used his official position in April 2015 to enrich himself by accepting a cash bribe from a person seeking to do business in Crystal City. As a result of his guilty plea, Urrabazo faces up to ten years in federal prison; a fine of up to $250,000; a $2,000 monetary judgment; and, forfeiture of approximately $1,000 in U.S. currency seized by authorities during this investigation. Urrabazo remains on bond pending sentencing which has yet to be scheduled.
Urrabazo is the fourth defendant to enter a guilty plea in this case. Former Mayo Pro-Tem Rogelio Mata, former City Councilman Roel Mata and businessman Ngoc Tri Nguyen have admitted their roles in the bribery and kickback scheme. All four defendants face up to ten years in federal prison.
Former City Attorney and City Manager William James Jonas, age 54, and former Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez, age 40, remains under a superseding indictment charged with conspiracy to commit bribery. In addition, Jonas is charged with four bribery-related counts and ten wire fraud-related counts; Lopez, two bribery-related and four wire-fraud related charges. Upon conviction, Jonas and Lopez face up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy to commit bribery charge, up to ten years in federal prison for each bribery related charge, and up to 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud related charge. Both are out on bond at this time awaiting trial scheduled for November 15, 2016, in Del Rio before United States District Judge Alia Moses.
This ongoing joint investigation is being conducted by the FBI and the San Antonio Police Department with assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigative Division and the Texas Rangers. Individuals who have first-hand information about corruption, fraud, or bribery related to Crystal City are urged to contact the FBI at (210) 225-6741.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jay Hulings and William R. Harris are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. Jonas and Lopez are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.