La Joya ISD trustee pleads guilty to federal extortion charge
A trustee with the La Joya school district stepped down from his position after pleading guilty to a federal extortion charge.
Oscar “Coach” Salinas admitted to threatening to terminate a contract between the school district and an insurance company if he did not receive payment, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Salinas pled guilty Thursday. He submitted a letter of resignation to the school district that same day, according to a spokeswoman with the district who declined to provide further details.
According to a news release, Salinas was receiving payments from Jacinto Garza, the CEO of L&G Engineering. At the time, the district had an insurance contract with Ruth Villarreal Insurance.
“Salinas learned Garza was politically supporting Everardo Villarreal, a candidate for Hidalgo County commissioner and Ruth Villarreal’s husband,” the news release stated. “Salinas threatened to terminate the contract with Ruth Villarreal Insurance if the agreement with Garza was not re-negotiated for additional monetary payments.”
Garza eventually terminated the payment arrangement with Salinas, who then cast a vote to terminate the district’s contract with Ruth Villarreal Insurance, the release stated.
Salinas is the second La Joya ISD school board member to step down after pleading guilty to a federal charge this year. In January, former trustee Armin Garza pleaded guilty to receiving more than $234,000 in bribes. Armin Garza’s sentencing is set for March 18.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez set sentencing for June 16. Salinas faces up to 20 years in federal prison, the release stated.
Salinas, who did not return a request for comment, was permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing.