La Joya ISD trustee pleads guilty in bribery conspiracy
A La Joya Independent School District (LJISD) trustee has admitted to receiving more than $234,000 in bribes, according to a Thursday news release from U.S. Attorney's Office.
Armin Garza, 42, of Peñitas admitted he participated in a conspiracy to steer lucrative energy savings contracts at various political subdivisions in Hidalgo County, including La Joya ISD, the news release stated.
Officials say in exchange, Garza and other co-conspirators received bribes and kickbacks from subcontractors selected to work on the energy savings contracts.
"As part of his plea, Garza admitted to using his influence over LJISD employees who were elected officials at other political subdivisions in Hidalgo County," the news release stated. "The employees subsequently received promotions or pay raises. They also voted to award or attempted to award the same company energy savings contracts at three other political subdivisions in Hidalgo County."
Authorities say Garza admitted to receiving at least $234,500 in bribes and agreed to forfeit the amounts as part of his plea.
Garza's sentencing was set for March 18 by U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa. Garza was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The FBI conducted the investigation with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Texas Department of Insurance, and McAllen Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto Lopez Jr. is prosecuting the case.
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