More charges filed against former Crystal City officials

More charges brought against former mayor, city manager

By Dawn Jorgenson - Graham Media Group

CRYSTAL CITY, Texas - The Department of Justice Wednesday said a federal grand jury added new charges against two former Crystal City officials.

Former city manager and attorney William James Jonas III, 54, was indicted in February on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and three substantive federal programs bribery charges.

That indictment also charged former Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one substantive federal programs bribery charge.

In Wednesday's superseding indictment, it is alleged that between May 2012 and February 2016, Jonas and Lopez used their positions to solicit and accept bribes from people who were seeking to do business in Crystal City. It is also alleged that the two used emails, text messages and phone calls to carry out a scheme to defraud the city and its citizens through bribery and the concealment of information.

The DOJ said Jonas was allegedly involved in a wire fraud scheme relating to a multimillion-dollar contract in May 2014 for several improvements to the city's infrastructure.

The DOJ said the contract showed Crystal City agreed to place about $2,124,389 in a specific account to pay the provider as phases of the work were completed.

However, the city issued certificates of obligation and raised about $2.25 million for the improvements, and those funds were deposited into the city general fund account in December 2014. Wednesday's indictment alleges Jonas directed city employees to leave that money in the city's general fund, and it was then used to pay his salary as city manager and city attorney, reimburse him for certain expenses and pay favored contractors, among other uses.

The DOJ said the indictment states the city's general fund balance after the deposit of the raised funds was $2,207,050, but on or about Oct. 31, it was $2,199. However, the city still owed approximately $735,048 on Nov. 6 under the contract.

If convicted on all charges, Jonas and Lopez face up to a total of 35 years in federal prison.

Both men are currently out on bond.

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