Exclusive: The FBI sent Edinburg a subpoena for city meeting records, emails

4 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago Tuesday, June 09 2020 Jun 9, 2020 June 09, 2020 5:49 PM June 09, 2020 in News - Local

The FBI served the city of Edinburg with a subpoena in February, requesting all email account information for Mayor Richard Molina, members of the City Council and eight city employees.

Edinburg received the federal grand jury subpoena on Feb. 27, according to documents released under the Texas Public Information Act.

The subpoena requested all email account information from Jan. 1, 2019, to Feb. 27, 2020. The subpoena also requested all City Council and Edinburg Economic Development Corp. meeting records “that are not otherwise publicly available” for the same time period.

“I haven’t heard anything about it,” said former police Chief David White, who joined the City Council in November 2019. “But I wouldn’t be surprised.”

What, exactly, the FBI is investigating remains unclear.

City Hall became a non-stop source of controversy, lawsuits and criminal investigations in November 2017, when Molina became mayor.

“There are just too many to name, to be honest with you,” said City Councilman Gilbert Enriquez.

In June 2019, a state grand jury indicted Molina and his wife, Dalia, on charges of engaging in organized election fraud. They pleaded not guilty.

Three months later, the Texas Attorney General’s Office charged City Secretary Ludivina “Ludy” Leal with illegal voting. The City Council fired her in November 2019.

Meanwhile, former city employees filed lawsuits against Molina and his supporters on the City Council, accusing them of participating in an illegal conspiracy to replace city employees with political cronies.

Special Agent Michelle Lee, a spokeswoman for the FBI, declined to comment on the subpoena.

KRGV-TV filed a public information request for the subpoena on March 9. The city asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office for a decision, which delayed release of the documents for months.

The Attorney General’s Office rejected the city’s arguments. Edinburg released a copy of the subpoena on Tuesday.

Addressed to the city Information Technology Department, the subpoena requests “all information, communication logs, and directory data, pertaining to e-mail accounts” for:

  • Mayor Richard Molina
  • City Councilman Jorge Salinas
  • City Councilman Gilbert Enriquez
  • City Councilman David White
  • City Councilman Juan “Johnny” Garcia
  • Former City Councilman David Torres
  • Former City Councilman Homer Jasso Jr.
  • Former City Manager Juan Guerra
  • Former City Manager Richard Hinojosa
  • Assistant City Manager Tom Reyna
  • Assistant City Manager Jesus R. Saenz
  • Former City Secretary Ludivina “Ludy” Leal
  • City Secretary Myra Ayala
  • Fire Chief Shawn Snider
  • Spokeswoman Cary Zayas

Along with email account information, the subpoena requested “all records and transcriptions” for City Council and Edinburg EDC meetings “that are not otherwise publicly available.”

The FBI agent served the subpoena on Feb. 27. It came with a boilerplate warning.

“You are not to disclose the existence of this directive,” according to the subpoena. “Any such disclosure would impede the investigation being conducted and thereby interfere with the enforcement of the law.”

Zayas, the city spokeswoman, and Snider, the fire chief, said they didn’t know about the subpoena and hadn’t been contacted by the FBI.

“If I knew what it was about, I would have something to say,” Snider said. “But I don’t.”

Members of the City Council said they didn’t know about the subpoena either.

Enriquez, White and Juan “Johnny” Garcia said the FBI hadn’t contacted them. 

“I’ve been there seven months,” said Juan “Johnny” Garcia, who joined the City Council after a run-off election in December. “So I haven’t seen anything or heard of anything on that.”

Salinas, Torres and Jasso couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Attorney Carlos A. Garcia, who represents Molina, said the fact that Edinburg received a federal subpoena isn’t surprising.

“I’d venture to say that if there was a Freedom of Information request made on a number of municipalities in the Valley, you’d find the same thing because the FBI has to justify its numbers,” Garcia said. “They’re on a budget and they’re being paid to produce numbers.”

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