SAN ANTONIO – Five current and former Crystal City officials and a Texas businessman were arrested Thursday on federal bribery charges.
Among those arrested were Crystal City Manager and Attorney William James Jonas III; Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez; Crystal City Mayor Pro Tem Rogelio Mata; Crystal City Councilman Roel Mata; former Crystal City Councilman Gilbert Urrabazo; and businessman Ngoc Tri Nguyen, of Keller.
According to Daryl Fields, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Western District of Texas, the men were arrested after being indicted by a federal grand jury. (To view the indictment, click here.)
- Jonas arranged a city council vote to award a $10,000 contract to a contractor
- In exchange for payments, Lopez, the Mata brothers and Urrabazo agreed to give Jonas a lucrative contract to be city manager and city attorney
- Nguyen gave $6,000 to Lopez to buy a car
- Lopez and Jonas helped Nguyen establish 8-liner gaming rooms in Crystal City in exchange for money from Nguyen
- Lopez and Jonas directed city employees to close competing businesses for Nguyen's benefit
"Almost every facet of the government in Crystal City had elements of corruption within it," FBI Special Agent Chris Combs said. "Through our efforts today, the people of Crystal City can now expect to receive a government that services them."
The indictment also alleges that Jonas managed the bribery scheme. It says a contractor provided bribes totaling more than $12,000 to Jonas, Rogelio Mata, Roel Mata and Urrabazo in exchange for their votes for a city contract.
"The indictment further alleges that Jonas proposed a kickback scheme to an attorney, in which that attorney would pay Jonas a portion of the legal fees paid by an entity seeking a contract with the city. In exchange for Jonas securing these bribes, Lopez, Rogelio Mata, Roel Mata and Urrabazo allegedly voted to award Jonas a lucrative contract to serve as both city manager and city attorney," a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office reads.
“Public corruption erodes the trust that citizens place in government officials. We are glad to work together with our federal partners to investigate and arrest those who violate that trust,” San Antonio police Chief William McManus said.
Jonas, who was arrested at his office at 300 East Basse Road in San Antonio, and Urrabazo made their initial appearances Thursday morning before a federal magistrate in San Antonio. The other three defendants from Crystal City are scheduled to make their appearances Thursday afternoon in Del Rio. Nguyen is anticipated to have his initial appearance Thursday in Fort Worth.
Fields said the men will probably be released on bond following their appearances.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Click through the interactive timeline below for more details on the Crystal City corruption case.
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