74ºF

FBI cracks down on public corruption

Several cases of fraud, money laundering in past few years

SAN ANTONIO – Money and greed are the two most common reasons corruption can be found in a business and the FBI McAllen office said they've had several high-level cases in the last few years.

"What drives public corruption is what I call the ‘gatekeeper concept' and the gatekeeper, meaning if you want to get to this you got to come through me," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Rock Stone.

Most recently, officials at Progresso Independent School District were caught taking bribes for the right to construction contracts.

"In that case we had like five subjects that were convicted felons and had multiple sentences ranging from many of them 5.6 to 12 year federal prison sentences for the corruption they were engaged in," Stone said.

In 2014, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino was charged with money laundering and sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Stone attributes the high number of cases to small towns and a lack of checks and balances.

"Naturally, we try and eliminate corruption at the systemic level," said Stone. "I believe the old expression is cut off the head you kill the snake."

Back In November, the FBI started the corruption task force.

It includes FBI agents, Texas Rangers, Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs, Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General and The Housing And Urban Development Office of the Inspector General.

Agent Stone encourages people in the valley to take a stand and help the FBI root out the corruption.

"In public corruption and civil rights, the best cases just come from citizens," Stone said.