SAISD Board trustee Olga Hernandez arrested in bribery, kickback scheme

Hernandez accepted cash, jewelry, travel, feds say

By David Ibanez - Web - Managing Editor

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio Independent School District Board Trustee Olga Hernandez was arrested Thursday on federal charges in connection with a bribery and kickback scheme.

Hernandez, 66, is accused of accepting cash, jewelry, and travel from people working for a school district insurance carrier and a paid independent insurance consultant for her influence on the district's board of trustees and her vote on numerous insurance services contracts awarded to the companies with whom the co-conspirators had a financial interest.

The federal indictment named the co-conspirators as Samuel Mullen, chief financial officer of the Mullen Pension & Benefits Group, LLC; Joshua Cerna, vice president of strategic markets for the Mullen Group; and William Haff, a paid independent insurance consultant.

The scheme happened from March 2008 to May 2015, federal officials said.

Hernandez made an appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon and was released on personal recognizance bond.

"She's been very good on school boards, done a lot of good in this community. She's innocent as charged. As everything unravels, everyone will see that," Alan Brown, Hernandez's attorney, said.

If Hernandez is found guilty on the charges, she could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

"We are very saddened and disturbed by this news. Since I have been here working with the board, they have demonstrated a commitment to act with the upmost integrity, to focus on our students and build trust with the community. We are waiting to find out more information, and will be following it closely," SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said in a statement.

SAISD Board President Patti Radle said the arrest, "is alarming to our Board and certainly saddens our spirit. We know nothing about this case other than what we have read in the media." 

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