CRYSTAL CITY, Texas – The swarm of FBI agents is gone, and the City Hall is reopened, but all is not back to normal in Crystal City.
Almost all of the small, South Texas city's leaders are now under federal indictment. City Manager and Attorney James Jonas, Mayor Ricardo Lopez, Mayor Pro Tem Rogelio Mata and Councilman Roel Mata were indicted Thursday on conspiracy and bribery charges. Councilman Margo Rodriguez was indicted Jan. 27 on unrelated federal charges of smuggling undocumented immigrants.
All of men except Rogelio Mata are out on bond, though none of them made an appearance at City Hall on Friday, where employees continued with their daily work.
"We still have a city manager and all that, a City Council, but they're not here," Code Enforcement Officer Ismael Cabello said.
Cabello said it wasn't a problem. He knew his duties, but "it's just weird. To me it's weird to have no government at the present."
That's not quite the case. As far as anyone could tell Thursday, all the men retain their positions in the Crystal City government.
The Crystal City charter says a council member forfeits their seat if they're convicted of a felony. The Defenders found no mention of what happens if they're indicted.
The only councilman not under indictment, Joel Barajas, said it's up to the other members of the council what they will do.
"I don’t know if they’re going to show up or not," he said of his colleagues Thursday night. "I really don’t know to be honest. I don’t know if they’re going to show up or they’re going resign."
The Defenders went looking for the council members who were out on bond Friday. The only one we found, Marco Rodriguez, drove away without speaking to us.
Police Chief Jesse Lopez said he doesn't know what will happen going forward.
The men might still be in their positions, but are they in charge?
"Well it doesn't look like it today," Lopez said. "Nobody has showed up or anything."
Finance director Gloria Hernandez said she received a phone call from Jonas, but none of the others who were indicted.
Barajas said he won't pressure his fellow council members to resign, but he will try to convince them to fire Jonas at the next City Council meeting. That is, of course, assuming they show up.+