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Peñitas officials convicted in bribery scheme

4 months 4 days 8 hours ago Friday, January 21 2022 Jan 21, 2022 January 21, 2022 6:18 PM January 21, 2022 in News - Local

Two officials with the city of Peñitas admitted to their roles in a $1.1 million bribery scheme involving other public servants and officials, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Peñitas Chief of Staff Andres Morales, 41, and Peñitas City Councilman Alex Guajardo, 38, pleaded guilty to bribery Friday. Both men were convicted of participating in a bribery scheme involving the payment of bribes and kickbacks to public servants and officials in exchange for votes or recommendations in support of granting energy savings contracts at various Hidalgo County political subdivisions.  

Earlier this month, La Joya ISD school board member Armin Garza pled guilty to similar charges.

RELATED: La Joya ISD trustee pleads guilty in bribery conspiracy

Morales and Guajardo admitted to receiving over $1 million and $275,000, respectively, as bribe and kickback payments to others, including La Joya Independent School District trustees and an administrator.

As part of a plea deal, both men agreed to forfeit $739,910.71 and $202,000, respectively. 

Morales also pled guilty to purchasing a firearm and falsely claiming that he had not been convicted of a felony, the news release stated.

RELATED: Bond granted for Peñitas chief of staff

Sentencing for both men is set for April 6. 

At that time, they each face up to five years in prison. 

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