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Lone Crystal City Council member not indicted responds to charges

Joel Barajas is hoping he can help the small town move forward

CRYSTAL CITY, Texas – Councilman Joel Barajas is the only Crystal City Councilman not facing federal charges.

Five current and former Crystal City officials and a Texas businessman were arrested Thursday in connection with a bribery scheme. 

Among those arrested: City Manager and Attorney William James Jonas III, Mayor Ricardo Lopez, Mayor Pro Tem Rogelio Mata, Councilman Roel Mata, former Councilman Gilbert Urrabazo and businessman Ngoc Tri Nguyen of Keller.

"I just want to say to Crystal City that we came this far and all we got to do is just unite together with the community and myself and we can continue going forward," said Barajas.

Dozens of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials raided City Hall, and as they put it “liberated the small south Texas town” from the grasp of public corruption.

The feds say the men are allegedly part of an elaborate scheme, in which they accepted thousands of dollars worth of bribes from contractors to award city contracts. Barajas says he had a feeling something was going on.

"I would ask for information and they wouldn't give me everything I was requesting. Being a councilman, as soon I request information, that's public information I should get it that same day. I would never get it," Barajas said.

Each city official expect for Rogelio Mata was released on bail. Barajas says he's working to figure out what might come next.

"They are still city councilmen and I don't know if they are going to show up or not," said Barajas.

City Councilman Marco Rodriguez was not named in Thursday's federal indictment but he does have other legal troubles. Rodriguez was indicted last week on human smuggling charges.