La Joya ISD trustee resigns after pleading guilty to extortion

Oscar “Coach” Salinas

A La Joya school board trustee pleaded guilty to extortion in federal court on Thursday and has submitted his resignation from the school board.

Oscar “Coach” Salinas, 52, admitted to threatening to cancel the school district’s contract with an insurance company if he did not receive payment, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Following the guilty plea, the La Joya school district issued a statement saying they were aware of the situation.

“Mr. Oscar ‘Coach’ Salinas submitted a letter of resignation on March 3, 2022 from the La Joya ISD School Board,” the statement read. “At this time the District has no other information.”

Salinas, from Sullivan City, confessed to having a payment arrangement with Jacinto Garza, the CEO of L&G Engineering, through which L&G was set to funnel payments to Salinas’ own company.

Meanwhile, the La Joya school district had a contract with Ruth Villarreal Insurance.

Salinas learned that Garza was politically supporting Villareal’s husband, Pct. 3 County Commissioner Everardo Villarreal who at the time was still just a candidate for county commissioner.

Subsequently, Salinas threatened to terminate the contract with Ruth Villarreal Insurance unless Garza re-negotiated his agreement with Salinas to pay him more money. However, Garza ultimately ended the payment agreement with Salinas.

No longer receiving those payments from Garza, Salinas then voted to terminate the school district’s contract with Ruth Villarreal.

After accepting Salinas’ guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez scheduled his sentencing for June 16. Salinas could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

He is currently permitted to remain free on bond pending his sentencing.

Salinas did not immediately return a request for comment.