Peñitas city manager pleads guilty to bribery, bankruptcy fraud
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with a statement from the city of Peñitas.
Peñitas City Manager Omar Romero pleaded guilty to bribery and bankruptcy fraud on Wednesday, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Romero faces up to five years in federal prison on each count of conviction.
Romero admitted that in 2018, he used a cell phone to communicate with other public officials regarding a scheme to sell a water tank to Agua Special Utility District (SUD). Compensation would be paid in consideration for board votes, according to the news release.
Romero also admitted that he received an unauthorized payment of at least $50,000 during a bankruptcy proceeding. He was appointed as the chief restructuring officer of Hidalgo County Emergency Services Foundation at the time.
In a statement sent Thursday, the city of Peñitas announced Romero has been "demoted" as city manager, with the city council appointing Humberto Garza serving as the new city manager.
"In an effort to keep Peñitas operating effectively and continuing to grow and develop, Mr. Omar Romero has been demoted and will continue in a supportive role to ensure continuity of services on projects with which he was involved," the city said in the statement.
Sentencing is set for Jan. 20, 2022.
Romero remains free on bond until then.