Rio Grande City USDA employee indicted on bribery charges

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A 51-year-old Rio Grande City resident and U.S. Department of Agriculture employee has been indicted on charges of bribing public officials and witnesses.

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said Roberto Rodriguez surrendered to authorities on Thursday.

Also arrested are Jose Sandoval, 70, and Daniel Diaz, 67, who are both USDA contractors from Rio Grande City.

Rodriguez worked for the USDA as a rural development loan specialist and from January of 2021 through Tuesday, Rodriguez accepted bribes from Sandoval and Diaz, according to the news release.

“In return, Rodriguez allegedly referred applicants of the USDA 504 Single Family Housing Repair Grant and Loan program to the contractors,” the release stated.

The bribes were provided to Rodriguez with the intent to influence acts after federally funded repairs were contracted.

The three-count indictment, which was returned Tuesday, includes a notice of forfeiture for a little more than $45,000.

The suspects were scheduled to make first appearances in McAllen federal court on Thursday.