Peñitas appoints new city manager

Humberto Garza

The city of Peñitas appointed a new city manager Thursday after former City Manager Omar Romero pleaded guilty to federal charges of bribery and bankruptcy fraud.

City leaders appointed Humberto Garza as the new city manager effective immediately, according to a news release.

Garza replaces Romero, a McAllen resident who was appointed interim city manager in September 2015 and then officially brought on board in December 2015.

While demoted from the city manager role, Romero will remain with the city in an unspecified “supportive role” in an effort to keep the city operating effectively, according to the city’s news release.

His continued involvement with the city is “to ensure continuity of services on projects with which he was involved,” the city added.

The appointment of a new city manager comes after Romero pleaded guilty to bribery and bankruptcy fraud in federal court on Wednesday.

He admitted to participating in a scheme to sell a water tank to the Agua Special Utility District and to paying for board votes, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He acknowledged receiving at least $31,875 as a result of the bribery scheme, according to the plea agreement.

The charge of bankruptcy fraud is tied to the bankruptcy case of Hidalgo County Emergency Medical Services Foundation, a private ambulance company that filed for bankruptcy in 2019.

Romero was appointed chief restructuring officer of the Hidalgo County EMS Foundation Nov. 4, 2019, as part of the company’s bankruptcy proceedings and, while in that role, he received at least $50,000 from the company’s estate that the bankruptcy court had not authorized or that he’d not earned as compensation for his services, according to the USAO news release.

Sentencing is currently scheduled for Jan. 20, 2022.


Peñitas city manager pleads guilty to bribery, concealing assets