La Joya trustee resigns after pleading guilty plea to bribery

Armin Garza is seen in this 2015 photo. (Courtesy: La Joya ISD/Facebook)

A board trustee for the La Joya school district resigned from his position Thursday after he confessed earlier that day that he accepted more than a quarter-million-dollars in bribes as part of a kickback scheme.

Armin Garza, 42, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, a charge that stems from allegations that he participated in a scheme with an energy savings company that also involved other elected officials from multiple entities in Hidalgo County.

Garza confessed to voting in favor of granting a contract to the company through La Joya ISD and to using his influence as a board trustee over district employees who were also elected officials at other entities so that they would also vote to award a contract to that same company.

Garza influenced those district employees with promotions or pay raises, and he admitted he received at least $234,500 in bribes from the company and their subcontractors. As part of his agreement to plead guilty, Garza will be forfeiting that amount to the federal government.

He was released Thursday on a $50,000 unsecured bond and is scheduled to be sentenced March 18.

In a statement issued by the La Joya school district, officials said he was no longer on the board.

“We are aware of the plea entered by Trustee Armin Garza,” the statement began. “On January 6, 2022 Mr. Armin Garza submitted a letter of resignation from the La Joya ISD School Board. At this time the District has no other information.”

The attorney representing Garza, Carlos A. Garcia, declined to comment.