Attorneys close to resolving La Joya bribery case

Sylvia Garces Valdez

Attorneys are on the verge of reaching an agreement in the case of Sylvia Garces Valdez, a former official with the La Joya Housing Authority, who is accused of participating in a bribery scheme through which she allegedly obtained a public relations contract with the city of La Joya.

During a hearing Friday before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, attorneys for the government said the case would likely be “resolved” within the next two weeks. Garces Valdez’s attorney, Carlos A. Garcia, told the judge he agreed.

When asked after the hearing if that meant the parties were close to reaching a plea agreement, Garcia said he could not comment.

“We’re still in the negotiating stages between us and so we’re close to getting it resolved and if I comment on it, it could affect the outcome,” Garcia said.

Garces Valdez is one of four defendants in the case and the only one who has not pleaded guilty. The other defendants in the case include former La Joya Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas, his daughter Frances A. Salinas, and Ramiro Alaniz, the maintenance director for the housing authority.

Garces Valdez is facing charges of converts to own use property of another and wire fraud.

Prosecutors allege that she agreed to pay Frances A. Salinas to help her obtain the public relations contract with the city.

Frances A. Salinas then allegedly convinced her father, Jose “Fito” Salinas, to grant Garces Valdez the contract.

Frances A. Salinas and Alaniz, the former maintenance director, both pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge related to a kickback scheme tied through the construction of a daycare through the La Joya Housing Authority.

As part of the scheme, Salinas allegedly instructed Alaniz to inflate the billing invoices for the project to hide that Salinas was receiving kickbacks from money loaned to the daycare by the La Joya Economic Development Corporation for the project.

On the day that he was set to go to trial, Jose “Fito” Salinas pleaded guilty to wire fraud related to the alleged scheme between Frances A. Salinas and Garces Valdez for the media relations contract.

The three who pleaded guilty are currently scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 28.

The next hearing for Garces Valdez is scheduled for Oct. 1.

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